Forward planning

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John Birkett (Letters, 31 January) says the Caltongate project has been labelled bland, torpid, tasteless, inappropriate and ugly. I doubt that even 5 per cent of the people of Edinburgh have expressed any ideas on the issue.

Buildings should be designed to meet the needs of their users, and public concerns – such as health, safety and energy conservation – should reflect that and not the tastes of a tiny few.

Moreover, ideas change over time. Until the Sixties, many fine Victorian structures were widely deemed to be ugly and not worthy of retention. It is likely that, had planning control existed when they were proposed, some of the most popular areas of Edinburgh and its iconic structures would not exist. Ramsay Gardens, for example, which is now “listed” and a prestigious address, was lambasted by the “heritage lobby” of the time.

If the national goal of sustainable development is to be even partially met, the characteristics of buildings must radically change. Dundee is showing the way forward. The design of the new V&A museum could not be more unconventional, yet there has been little criticism of it.

Euan Bremner

Perth Road

Dundee

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