COUNCILLOR Cameron Rose suggests that to cherish Edinburgh’s built heritage amounts to “negativity” (Letters, 3 March). Surely the fact the city remains a living, working historic centre despite the excesses of the corporate property industry is an entirely positive thing?
Having spent much of the 1970s campaigning to save the Southside from a 1960s Comprehensive Development Area policy I make no apology for challenging Mr Rose’s views.
In those days we fought for a community and its buildings, and the council eventually recanted. Student rector Gordon Brown, housing convener Robin Cook and Edinburgh’s first Labour Lord Provost Jack Kane made common cause with the Nationalist Moultrie Kelsall, Liberals John G Gray and Robert Smith and Conservative councillors James Douglas-Hamilton and Ronald Duff.
Eventually the Southside was declared a conservation area – the very conservation area in which Mr Rose now wishes to de-list historic buildings.
Today, St Andrew Square is trashed without an environmental screening procedure, as required by law. The architect designing their replacement now awaits the demolition of the last Georgian block between St Andrew Square and Register House and produces a proposal which will ruin one of the world’s finest neo-Greek buildings, the Royal High School.
We suffer from a political culture which has replaced the social values of planning with development driven economics. A recommendation to close down Register House has now emerged from the Scottish Executive. Even the most free-market obsessed Tea Party Republican wouldn’t dare suggest closing the US National Archive building on Washington’s Mall, yet for Scotland’s philistine elite this is all in a day’s work.
You really couldn’t make it up.
David J Black
St Giles Street