Fenwick, a jewel in the crown of East Ayrshire, is under threat from an ill-conceived high density housing scheme that will change the unique village for ever - prompting residents to bandy together under a "don't foul Fenwick" banner.
Despite over 600 objections from the small community East Ayrshire council waved through a planning application to build 65 homes in the areas Skernieland Road, which was proposed by Mansell Homes. The application does not adhere to Scottish Government or East Ayrshire planning guidelines. For example, the density of the scheme is not in keeping with the rural setting, many elements of the development – including its density – are not consistent with the local plan and it is in breach of many planning guidelines. For instance the development does not contain any open space.
What particularly caught Urban Realm’s eye here is this was not a NIMBY campaign. The residents of Fenwick support the development of their village. But they want development which is in-keeping with the villages historic heritage and status as a conservation area.
The village is famous for the Fenwick Covenanters and has more recently has been recognised as the birthplace of the Co-operative movement. The villagers point to the irony that a new development by Prince Charles at Knockroon, falls with the East Ayrshire area. Here the Council is helping Prince Charles creating a new, traditional Scottish village from scratch. Meanwhile their polices are endangering the real deal – an authentic 17th century village. What is the motivation? It is fair to say other developers are agog of what Mansell has been allowed to get away with in its proposal. “It is very unusual for a scheme of this type and density to have been allowed in a rural conservation village such as Fenwick. Other house builders are not allowed such latitude in other parts of East Ayrshire,” said one housebuilder.
But what makes matter different here is that the land itself is owed by the cash-strapped council. They will be a prime beneficiary if this scheme goes ahead. It will also allow them to build more houses in the area, so rather than 65 houses, it is though that a second phase of the scheme will bring the real total to 105 – increasing the size of the settlement by 30%. Adding to a sense that this proposal is particularly unusual is the plot is to be sold to Mansell without first going to public tender.
Urban Realm notes that if the Mansell scheme goes ahead then the precedent will be set. It will open the doors to a range of other development meaning the character of the original village will be drowned in an expanding urban sprawl. This seems like one small housing scheme. But in our view it is actually a real symbol of what is going wrong in Scottish towns generally. Councils are taking decisions for short term gain, which then damages Scotland’s townscapes for ever. Because they are also riding rough-shod over the views of the local communities it is also damaging Fenwick’s fate.
The village deserves better. Scotland deserves better. Perhaps this is a new cause for the Fenwick Covenanters!
Fife Leisure Park, Dunfermline (Fife)
Reason for nomination: Firstly, what inspiration lay behind the imaginatively constructed name? I guess we will never know how many hours planning officers meticulously poured into coining it. The ‘leisure park' consists of a cinema and fitness centre delicately balanced against fast food franchises in an enormous car park. A bus stop stands as a lonely outpost. The 'park' is flanked by the white elephant of the semiconductor plant that never was and thousands of new homes built on green fields orbiting an airport terminal sized Tesco. Near to it a new community centre and school nestles attractively next to a pizza franchise.
Nominated by: J. Bell
Menie Estate (Aberdeenshire)
Reason for nomination: I wish to nominate all the Trump/Menie Full Planning Permissions since the granting of the original Outline Permission and approval of the Masterplan. The original planning decision was awarded a Plook - butthe story continues. You would normally expect applications thereafter to be linked to the Outline Permission but no - each and every one is Full Planning Permission thereby neatly side stepping all the conditions and legal agreements associated with the original planning permission. So for the determined subversion of the planning system, can I nominate Aberdeenshire's APP/2011/1889, APP/2010/2665, and APP/2010/1535. Sorry - no image possible as it's the process not the result - tho' they are pretty awful too.
Nominated by: Debra Storr
Timmer Market Clinic (Aberdeenshire)
Area: Roundabout corner at Justice Street & East North Street in Aberdeen
Reason: Apart from resembling an 18th century prison hulk, it blends in soooo beautifully with the granite buildings in the area. The strange anodised crap-brown of the partial cladding allied to unfinished effect of the brickwork gives it that certain je ne c'est quoi. On top of that, a busy car park (in the part of town with the worst parking facilities) was used as the ground for this, and all the flats above the drug rehab clinic (100 yards from a school) have no parking, so adding to the parking fiasco existant in this town.To ad insult to injury, it was sold for below market value to the NHS. Well done ACC.
Nominated by: David Stewart - firstname.lastname@example.org
Triple Kirks (Aberdeenshire)
Yesterday, this was granted planning permission by Aberdeen City Council. http://commercialdevelopments.stewartmilne.com/triple-kirks-home.aspx
Sitting at a key location in the city centre, surrounded by high quality granite buildings, this dull box wraps round and mainly obscures the A listed Triple Kirks Spire. While not arguing against the continuing crowning of Aberdeen City and Shire as the home of poor planning decisions (plans to drive a dual carriageway through residential areas from north of the Don to the south via a new bridge demonstrates just how much it is the 1970s in Aberdeen), this particular decision can not go unremarked.
Nominated by: Debra Storr
This hideous piece of architecture will ruin the history and beauty of this iconic site all for the sake of pleasing Stewart Milne. It's not enhancing the spire - it's covering it up!! And do we not already have hundreds of ugly, emtpy office spaces built on a whim that could be utilised before erecting more?Aberdeen Council need to get a grip, grow some gonads and put money in to regenerating the city we already have rather than popping up another monstrosity in order to please their rich friends. Who's actually making the decisions at ACC? I'm starting to wonder...
Nominated by: Katie Guthrie
After about 30 years of allowing an Archibald Simpson church spire to fall into a ruin, Aberdeen City Council's development management sub-committee have approved a proposal for an office complex which is likely to be seen in later years as the work of philistines. After earlier sympathetic treatment of another part of the site, this proposal seeks to build a glass box round the remaining part allowing commercialism to destroy an iconic building in the centre of Aberdeen. No attempt is being made to produce a building which maintains or enhances the aesthetic value of the spire or the buildings in its neighbourhood.
Nominated by: David Eunson
Union Square (Aberdeenshire)
Aberdeen has been beset by a number of questionable planning decisions in recent years, of which Union Terrace Gardens is merely the most egregious.
Factor in an ongoing tiff at Menie courtesy of Trump, dubious Duany New Town plans at Chapelton of Elsick and the clunky Union Square shopping mall and you have a city which seems to be heading backward - despite a shiny new council HQ at Marischal College