Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Changing face of Oban waterfront

oban columba hotelI make no apologies for being referred to as unimaginative in some respects, but there are some things where I think that change for the sake of change, following a trend, modernising, or redevelopment are just not wanted. It’s probably a symptom of suffering from the disease of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

I always feel the alarm bells ringing when I see headlines relating to attractions that include words like “redevelopment”, “upgrade”, “rejuvenate”, “transform”, “prestigious”, “first-class”, and “dilapidated”.

All to often these words appear when there’s a plan growing to trash somewhere that has been around too long, and has fine historic features that the everyone knows and likes, but that the developers want to have flattened so they can get some new build crammed into the space, shoehorn in some white uPVC windows, and smother the place in that damned block paving that has come to make every town and village look like as if it has been cloned.

Oban waterfront is the most recent to come in for this treatment, yet it seems like only a few years ago I was standing on the pier as the building there were coming down around me to be replaced by something new. Then there’s the fairly sad shopping centre beside the ferry terminal, not all that old, but looking much like any other low-level version of the same building that came out of the same computer aided design package that was all the rage a few years ago. Thank goodness for the old building and the tower on top of the hill that still give you a clue as to where you are.

The owners of the Columba Hotel have been given approval by the council to carry out upgrading of the hotel to 4 star status, and rejuvenate the north pier. This sounds ok, but I worry when I then read that the plans would see the nearby Museum of War and Peace transformed into a corporate function and dining facility. Well, that’s fine so long as the museum remains the main purpose of the building, and not a charitable “hanger on” that gets in the way of corporate functions, and sees itself thrown out onto the street in a few years. The museum is listed, so approval for the plan will need to be sought from Historic Scotland.

We do need to stop things from becoming dilapidated, but my concern is that I don’t see the front of Oban at that stage yet (there’s plenty of places around the coast I could point to that are absolutely decrepit in spots), but similarly, don’t want to see it go that way either, so early action is to be applauded. I’d rather see it better described though, and still worry that once the prestigious developers move in to improve the public face of the town and enhance and rejuvenate it, all the quaint and historic features might be swept away to make the place “tidy”.

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June 25, 2008 - Posted by | Civilian | , , ,

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