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Burrell lets rip on the Waterfront

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November 16 2005

The developer Andrew Burrell has heavily criticised Waterfront Edinburgh for the low quality of its latest development. Burrell described Waterfront Edinburgh’s own design for Madelvic 8, a housing development on Granton Park Avenue, as “truly dreadful”. According to Gale Adams, the case officer for Madelvic 8 at Edinburgh City Council planning department, the original application for this scheme raised four objections.

“The main reason for the objections was that it was too tall for the site, although there was also reference to the poor quality of materials proposed for construction,” said Adams. The planning department returned the plans to Waterfront Edinburgh without going to committee. New plans have been submitted but these have again raised an objection. “We have objected to both schemes,” said Burrell.

BUREDI has employed Malcolm Fraser to build 65 flats and 16 work/live units, adjacent to Madelvic 8. BUREDI is a joint venture company established by the EDI and The Burrell Company, of which Andrew Burrell is director. Similarly, Waterfront Edinburgh is a joint venture company established in March 2000 by the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian. Hitherto, they have acted as developers in the area.

Burrell however, attacked the council for not showing the way. “If they are going to insist on top quality architecture which complies with their master plan, it is a strange root to take, going in-house. They should be encouraging the builders to match the standards that have already been set. If they are going to lower the standard, they make their own job and the planner’s job more difficult. You can’t turn round to Persimmon and say, your standards need to be much higher. All they will do is point to the work of the vendor, who has already unilaterally lowered them,” said Burrell.

At the Scottish Design Show, held on 6 and 7 October, Trevor Davies, the convener of Edinburgh City Council’s Planning And Development Quality Sub-Committee, said that trying to secure quality development on the Waterfront while working with the builders of mass housing was “very hard”. “We are trying to have a kind of thoughtfulness. We have to work with the Barratt and the Persimmon and the Wimpeys to deliver that vision and that makes it very hard,” he said.

Davies declined to comment on individual applications, but insisted that they had no defined system for ensuring quality. “We’re not looking for iconic architecture all the time; sometimes we need just plain and straightforward. I don’t care where that comes from, whether things are in-house or whether they are sourced from talented architects. It’s the product in front of us. We will accept or reject bad product wherever it comes from. If designs forget issues of place, then we get bad buildings and I would suggest that big house builders do it more than smaller ones. Not always, but generally. However, we need thoughtfulness, and I don’t care where that comes from,” he said. Burrell insisted that the scheme from Waterfront Edinburgh was the worst he had seen in the area. “Design is value. Is that a joke?” said Burrell, referring to an Edinburgh City Council advertisement.

“We’ve come to expect this kind of thing from Andrew Burrell. We won’t be making any further comment,” said Mette Friis, marketing manager of Waterfront Edinburgh.

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