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Plook panel revisit Cumbernauld

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September 19 2005

The advisory panel for the Carbuncles Awards has completed its first fact-finding mission, with an extensive trip to towns that have received early nominations. A panel including the art impresario Richard Demarco and the Sunday Herald’s associate editor, Alan Taylor, visited Cowdenbeath, Dalkeith, Ardrossan, Cumbernauld, Greenock and the Granton area in the north of Edinburgh. Although nominations for the most dismal town in Scotland are still open, as they are for the most disappointing building and the worst planning decision, the panel has identified the leading contenders and further defined the parameters of the selection process.
The committee continually picked out evidence that belied a “lack of any civic aspirations” as the most important criteria by which a town or urban area should be assessed for inclusion. Any further buildings that are nominated will indeed be assessed on such criteria and put to the panel for its consideration. The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 6 October at the Scottish Design Show, which is to be held at the Tramway in Glasgow. However, further nominations can still be made at These will subsequently be put to the panel for assessment and possible inclusion in the shortlist.
A town that is unlikely to be included is Cowdenbeath. The panel members felt that while the economic difficulties of the area had taken a toll on the town, the award “should not single out areas that are deprived through no fault of their own and give them a bashing”, as one panel member put it. Other nominations that emerged from the day’s proceedings included Kirkwall, Stranraer, Girvan, Galashiels and Peterhead. These will be investigated further and put to the panel for the ultimate shortlist.
The panel also accepted the Plook on the Plinth Award back from the Cumbernauld News, which had accepted it on behalf of Cumbernauld in 2001. When asked by Claire Grant, a reporter on the News, whether the town had improved since it had received the award in 2001, a spokesperson for the panel admitted that it hadn’t: “If anything, the addition of a new Tesco’s, which hasn’t been integrated into the existing street plan, has made the town worse.” The Carbuncle organisers were told in 2001 that a proposed development for a new shopping centre adjacent to the town centre would begin imminently.
Grant confirmed that developers London and Regional had recently postponed the commencement of the project again.

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