Psychedelia Rules!

Union Street has had a temporary make-over. No traffic for most of the day, just pedestrians enjoying the pollution-free former thoroughfare, and relaxing in the outside seating areas.

It’s quite a change, brought about by the creation of outside seating areas which use the road space that has been created by stopping traffic access between the hours of 11am and 4pm.  Access, strictly for deliveries, is allowed for vehicles prior to 11am and after 4pm.

The funding for the changes has come from ‘Spaces for People’ through Sustrans Scotland and in partnership with Dundee City Council. The execution and design input came from the Dundee UNESCO City of Design team, led by Annie Marrs, and was the result of a collaboration and discussion with the businesses who operate in Union Street.

Interestingly, this project uses pedestrianisation to deliver what is hoped will be a stronger commercial environment rather than having safety and the removal of vehicles from a street as the desired results. Union Street, which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares from the main city centre bus stops down to the V&A, the RRS Discovery Point visitor centre and the railway station, is hoping to create a destination area in the city in its own right. This collaborative approach is to be welcomed, but care needs to be taken to ensure that there is a synergy between the business premises and their new environment.

The work has been carried out by local designers and makers and, as a result, rather than importing some off-the-peg street furniture, the funding has been largely spent in the local area. Good design always works best when it is the result of local considerations; and with the painting design already planned to have a limited life it is to be hoped that additional funding will be available to keep the project up to standard and perhaps take it to a different level. It is obvious that what works during Dundee’s sunny warm months may need to be adjusted to cope with the colder wetter months.

The original concept of High Street shopping was that the collective drawing power of the street’s retailing offer provided a strong attraction for shoppers. This imaginative approach to turn Union Street into a destination street seems to me to be a worthwhile experiment and the businesses who have largely been in support of the experiment are to be congratulated.

Article by Brian Cram for Newsflash 46 (September 2020)

Our Response to the Call for Ideas

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government held an open call for ideas, inviting views from organisations and individuals on what Scotland ought to look like in 2050 and the changes needed to get us there. All of the evidence collected will inform the position statement, to be published later in the autumn, and draft National Planning Framework (NPF4), which is scheduled for publication in autumn 2021.

The Trust’s response has been published online and may be viewed here:

Dundee Civic Trust Student Award

Two students from Dundee University have won a competition sponsored by Dundee Civic Trust. Run in association with the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, students submitted their fourth year projects for scrutiny by members of the Civic Trust board.

Dundee Civic Trust exists, among other aims, to encourage the best standards of design in architecture and town planning. It is therefore fitting that we should support and encourage young, talented students who are about to embark on their careers.  We are delighted to be associated with the University of Dundee in sponsoring the first of what will be an annual competition for students in Architecture and Urban Planning.

In this first year, the University selected a short list of four fourth year Architecture students who have submitted their year’s projects.  The judging panel was very impressed by the well argued, interesting and logical solutions that were proposed for urban problems, in Dundee and old Shanghai.

The winner is Calum Ramsay, with runner up Mishell Parodi.

The judging panel said, ‘Calum’s work was extremely professional, well-argued and very well presented. He added a personal voice as an outsider to his understanding of Shanghai. He made use of work from lectures to good effect and was able to incorporate his own findings into potential solutions for Shanghai’s problems of overcrowding.  Shanghai, like many cities, deals with old, unsanitary buildings by demolishing them and replacing them with high rise tower blocks at such high prices and rents such that the displaced community cannot afford to live there. Our local example in Dundee is similar, with the decanting of communities from the central areas. Calum’s solution for Shanghai was to create buildings of a more human scale with communal areas and green spaces where the displaced communities could return and function with their old familiar networks. It was a very interesting piece of work.’

Proposed new housing at Keiller’s site

Good news and bad news:  Barratt Homes are proposing to develop housing on the former Keiller’s site fronting Mains Loan and Clepington Road that has lain empty for over 20 years. It will be good to see housing on this ‘brownfield site’ close to existing services and amenities. Unfortunately, in our view, Barratt are trying to get too many homes on the site. There is no meaningful communal open space and some of the garden sizes are very small. Given there maybe 600 people living here this needs to be addressed. The Trust has also criticised the design of the flats fronting Clepington Road which we feel fails to fully reflect the tenement style to the west.

Civic Trust Awards 2019

Three fantastic developments were presented with Dundee Civic Trust Awards at a ceremony in the Dalhousie Building at Dundee University on 31 October 2019. The award winners for 2019 were: Water’s Edge (Tayforth Properties Ltd/Nicoll Russell Studios, Lyon Building Services); V&A Dundee, Museum of Design (V&A Dundee/Kengo Kuma and Associates/BAM Construction); Dundee Station and Sleeperz Hotel (Dundee City Council/Jacobs/Balfour Beattie). Congratulations to all!

Dundee Low Emission Zone

Dundee Civic Trust welcomes the steps proposed by Dundee City Council to establish a Low Emission Zone in central Dundee. The Council is to be congratulated on moving forward with plans which will help to counteract the ‘climate emergency’ declared by the Scottish Government. It is a major step forward in improving air quality in the city centre. We support the proposal for the area within the Inner Ring Road, but probably not including, in the restricted area, the Inner Ring Road itself. If it were to be included, affected traffic would surely find routes through nearby residential areas.

Robertson’s Bond

We are pleased to learn that the application to convert Robertson’s Bond in Seagate to create 27 flats has been approved by the Council, hopefully securing the future of this fine building. The applicant has taken measures to reduce noise and air pollution affecting the flats, but we will continue to urge the Council to tackle the poor environment in Seagate. The proposed city centre Low Emission Zone should help.