City Scene 2021

2020-2021 Issue

Our new edition is available for £5.00 plus £1.50 postage and packing. Please contact us to place an order.


  • Comment – from the Chairman
  • COVID – a Year in Pictures
  • Dundee: Vision for 2040 – the Trust’s aspirations for the City
  • The 20-Minute Neighbourhood – the possible merits of this sustainable policy
  • Dundee Port – Adapting to the Future
  • The Case for Wider Boundaries – a view on expansion of the City’s administrative area
  • The Pioneering History of Public Art in Dundee
  • The East Mill – Scotland’s first successful steam powered flax mill
  • Civic Trust Student Awards – the Trust’s first student awards, in 2020 and 2021
  • DC Thomson Buildings – the impressive built estate of the City’s main publisher
  • Dundee’s Cold War – Royal Observer Corps
  • Dundee’s Cold War – The Maps
  • Dundee’s Cold War – Royal Naval Reserve

Plans for solar energy at James Hutton Institute

An application has been submitted by the Dundee Renewable Energy Society for an array of solar panels on a 6.25 ha site north of the A90 opposite Bullionfield to supply power to the James Hutton Institute, estimated at over 25 per cent of their considerable energy use. The plans involve changes to access from the A90, under which the cables would pass, and removal of a considerable amount of woodland. The applicants propose some replanting and state that the visual impression will remain of a wooded site, as a strip of trees alongside the A90 would be retained.

Our planning group will be examining the proposals in more detail.

The application reference is 21/00670/FULL.

Proposals for central corner site

Dundee City Council has received an application for the conversion and change of use of the six-storey former Royal Insurance building at the corner of Whitehall Crescent and Crichton Street.

This is a very prominent – and potentially prestigious – city centre location. The existing building, designed by the Parr architectural practice, was erected in the early 1970s on a site which had been left unfinished under the Improvement Act a century earlier. Here once stood the Old Custom House.

The new proposals, to designs by Jon Frullani Architect, involve conversion of the upper floors to form fourteen flats. The existing fenestration and curtain walling would be removed and the building re-clad in masonry with new window openings.

The Trust supports the principle of residential use here, as it will help support city centre businesses and services. The appearance of the building will be the major factor in our consideration of the application. The application can be viewed on the Dundee City Council website under planning reference 21/00636/FULL.

Dundee Civic Trust Student Awards 2021

The Civic Trust’s second annual Student Award, run in association with the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Dundee University, gives recognition to three top students from the Department.

The winner of the Award is Evan McColl, who is a member of the Hilltown Collective – Sustainable Urban Community group. Evan produced an excellent, comprehensive and well-thought-out blueprint for transforming the Hilltown area.

After extensive research into the different critical elements operating against the Hilltown functioning as a ‘great space’, Evan’s work shows how the southern part of the district could be transformed into a fully formed neighbourhood. The vision comes complete with an urban farm and mixed-use core incorporating a number of uses. These include a library and café, residential units with workshops and gallery space, multi-generational housing, food hall, plaza area with outdoor seating, theatre and cinema. The plan also includes a pedestrian and cycle skyway link and envisages the roof spaces of the existing Dallfield multis being adapted to form roof gardens and games courts.

Evan’s submission also provides drawings and diagrams of environmental benefits, including a biomass boiler providing underfloor heating to public areas; air source heat pumps with underfloor heating for residential areas; photovoltaic arrays on roofs; and green walls providing vertical garden space within housing.

The runners up are Sean Noon, with an exciting design for a new central sports centre for the city; and Nguyenova Thao Vi, who envisaged extending the University campus towards the River Tay, with a new Library built partly over the water.

The entries were examined by a judging panel from Dundee Civic Trust. Our Chairman, Donald Gordon, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to support, encourage and reward the excellent work being done in the Department by our future architects and planners.  How the city will look in the years to come may depend to some extent on the learning and inspiration that they acquire as students.’

Cameron Wilson, the Head of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Dundee, commented: ‘The prize winners will be pleased and honoured to be announced as recipients of the Dundee Civic Trust Student Award. A “thank you” to the Civic Trust for your energies and continuing to support this award for our students.”

The awards will be presented to the students at a later date.

East End Eden

Details of the long-awaited proposals to bring the Eden Project to Dundee were revealed in the local press on 21 May. Following a feasibility study, the extensive site of the former gas works between East Dock Street and Broughty Ferry Road has been identified as the preferred location.

Two hundred years ago, this was where the waters of the Tay estuary met the shore below the eastern ‘sea braes’. The site affords much creative potential. Eden Project’s plans envisage a repurposed gasholder dominating the skyline, a massive walled garden and a bridge spanning East Dock Street and the railway, providing a link with City Quay.

The visitor experience will be organised around a series of nine ‘Guilds’, inviting alternative ways of perceiving the world. This is an echo of the city’s familiar Nine Incorporated Trades.

A memorandum of understanding has now been signed with the owners of the gas works site. After a further three to four months of design work, Eden Project Dundee intends to release further details.

Dundee Civic Trust has been very supportive of the plan to establish Scotland’s Eden Project in the city. We look forward to the development of this addition to our growing number of visitor attractions.

More Student Homes?

Proposal of Application Notices have been submitted to the council for two potential student housing developments. One of these is a proposal for demolition of the former West Ward Works on Guthrie Street to make way for purpose-built accommodation with ancillary facilities. The other set of plans would see conversion of the former Dundee College buildings on Constitution Road, which would seem a welcome solution for this prominent eyesore.

The Trust will be keeping an eye on the details of these proposals as they unfold.

Dundee Maritime Trail

Recently launched, Dundee’s new Maritime Trail has been the product of nine different bodies and individuals whose work has brought together Dundee’s connection with its maritime world. The trail covers a two kilometre route going east from the V&A.

There is a great (and still being developed) website which can be accessed here:

The website gives you detailed information on 21 parts of the trail as well as providing a downloadable map. It is very up to date, with information on the development at Waterfront Place, east of V&A Dundee, which is under construction.  It states, ‘The landscape has been designed to reflect coastal geography with dune-like landscaping leading down to an urban beach. A maritime themed interactive play park and a travel hub building with cycle hire will also be available.’

There are lots of links to other online resources and various videos so there is plenty to occupy you. Various historical photographs of the area may also be viewed, so you can see how things have changed over the years. This website is well worth a visit and the contributors are to be congratulated for producing another valuable resource for the city and the tourists visiting Dundee.


Esports Arena

We have heard that the architects who are taking part in the feasibility study for the proposed esports arena to the east of Slessor Gardens are no longer to be acting for the developers, Northern Lights Arena (NLA) Europe.

This is a setback, but it is to be hoped that the developers are sufficiently committed to make further progress with this exciting venture, which is so appropriate for Dundee.

Our Vision for Dundee

In a changing world, our cities will be very different places in twenty years’ time. Dundee Civic Trust has spent the last few months preparing its Vision for 2040.

We foresee the possibility of Dundee as a dynamic, compact city; a well-connected city both physically and digitally; a sustainable city pursuing net zero emissions; a learning city; a city with a clear identity that builds on its economic strengths and natural assets; and a city where people want to live, work, learn and visit.

Read the full document here.

Virtual AGM – better late than never!

The Civic Trust held its Annual General Meeting by Zoom on Thursday 19 November, eight months behind schedule due to the effects of the Covid crisis. It was a brisk, low-key event, which at least permitted us to conclude our business for 2019-2020 and move forward. We venture to hope it will not be too long before our normal format of a real meeting with guest speaker and refreshments may take place again.