Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Can Bute support a 163 room carbuncle hotel?

With so many hotel buildings rotting in the centre of Rothesay, and owners unable to get cash to help repair and preserve the existing infrastructure, I’m tempted to use emotive words such as ‘obscene’ to describe a recent story I spotted which tells of plans underway to present a planning application for a new 163 bed hotel and complex to occupy the existing site of the Isle of Bute Sailing Club and the remains of the old bathing station in the island’s West Bay area.

I can see how the sailing club would be bought by this idea, gaining a shiny new facility to operate from instead of its present ageing home (probably showing its age and I doubt backed by a huge kitty to see to its maintenance or refurbishment), and I can also see that many of those who existing islanders (Brandanes) might refer to by the derogatory ‘Incomers’ would probably like what they see as an ‘eyesore’ removed. But the old place still has historic interest, and served as the island’s NAAFI during World War II. NAAFI refers to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, an organisation created by the British government in 1921 to run recreational establishments needed by the British Armed Forces.

As can be seen from the rendering released by the proposers, the new hotel offers no visible connection to any aspect of the island’s history, and is sadly a poor design that looks like little more than a couple of boxes stuck together, and painted a horrible colour.

It’s at times like this I realise that many of the complaints levelled again Glasgow City Council’s planning department are baseless, and made by people who merely hate the council, and have no rational basis for their hate.

I could probably moan and drone on about my dislike for this proposal, but that would be pointless.

Suffice to say I’ll be keeping an eye open for any later stories, to see if this is a genuine effort, or if some sort of conspiracy where someone benefits is uncovered or revealed further down the road.

Via New hotel planned for Rothesay

Anyone who wants to submit comments can email info@elevateplanning.co.uk or write to Elevate Planning, 10 Main Street, Castledawson, Northern Ireland, BT45 8AB.

After concluding the consultation on September 29, the company behind this intends to submit a planning application to Argyll and Bute Council.

Proposed Bute Hotel

Proposed Bute Hotel

The  outdoor bathing station was built in 1933, when such things were popular, but only lasted until 1938, when a new enclosed bathing pool was opened on the other side of the bay, and closer to Rothesay.

It seems to have been bought around 1994 by someone who said they planned to open a hotel on the site, and develop flats and other facilities, but nothing ever happened as the buyer apparently suffered a number of mishaps (reported in the local press at the time, if I remember correctly). The main thing I noticed was the appearance of security fencing around the site, a caravan, and no ‘Welcome’ signs placed for anyone who might have wanted to look at the old place.

Then, in January 2016, the media carried stories of those plans being abandoned, and the site of the old bathing station being put up for sale.

I really should get around to the job of digitising my archive, but it’s kind of… biggish.

This was the only pic I could lay hands on quickly, of the old bathing station – in snow!

You can see the fragmenting shore structure which used be a series of steps leading into the sea pool.

The structure to left covers a vestibule which contained a stairway giving access to other levels such as the café.

Hidden by the snow on the ground (actually the roof of the café) are formerly glazed panels (now filled in and blocked) which were skylights for the café below.

This pic actually post-dates the 1994 sale of the station – as may be seen by the classy ‘PRIVATE’ sign sprayed on the structure.

Isle Of Bute Bathing Station

Isle Of Bute Bathing Station

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September 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Burrell Collection building refurbishment gains planning permission

While it would have been a rather odd result, it is nice to see that plans for the £66 million refurbishment of the Burrell Collection building and display areas have gained official planning permission.

Planning permission has been granted for a major refurbishment of the Burrell collection museum in Glasgow.

The £66m project to upgrade the building and provide more display space also received listed building consent.

Glasgow City Council recently approved funding of up to £27.3m towards the cost of the refurbishment.

The Burrell collection has more than 8,000 artefacts, but fewer than a fifth of them have been on show at any one time.

In April 2015, the council provided £5.7m to kick-start the building’s revamp, which houses treasures donated to the city by collector Sir William Burrell in 1944.

Via Planners approve Burrell collection revamp

Burrell building

Burrell Collection, Pollok Park, Glasgow © Iain Thompson via Geograph

While the building will receive a much-needed upgrade to its structure and services, the greatest benefit for the visitor has to be the release and creation of a vast amount of exhibition space – so much of the large collection was formerly locked away in storage, but will be able to brought out and placed on display – the old space only allowed 20% of the collection to be on show at any one time:

When it re-opens to visitors in 2020, the basement of the Category A listed building will become part of the exhibition space, so that 90% of the objects can be viewed by the public.

A dedicated space will also be created for special exhibitions and offices will be converted into galleries.

Now, there only seem to be two problems for me… one, to make it to 2020, and the second, to work out a reasonable means of getting to the Burrell from my hovel in the east end of Glasgow. Banished to public transport, I can’t see a direct route and the various bus and train combination I can find seem to need the patience of a saint to follow, and take forever.

Maybe I should buy a new bike, and make up a flask and sandwiches.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow City Council saves Glasgow School of Art again

I used to be part of a forum that spent much of its time kicking Glasgow City Council, but after I while I came to realise that this was not being done with any sort of rationale or logic, but was merely being driven by a few noisy people whose aim was to run what amounted to anti-council campaign, possibly based on little more than hate or politics, and which simply took almost every decision made by the council… and ranted against it, regardless of whether or not a reasonable person would have approved.

That’s not to say Glasgow City Council is perfect, but after looking at reports of other councils in the media – we don’t actually do that badly, and maybe better than some.

I see the council has just made the news by rejecting a planning application for a block of flats to be built adjacent to the Glasgow School of Art.

While I suspect it would be fairly safe to say there are few (not counting the developer concerned) who would disagree with the refusal, I did note that the report showed the rejection was not carried unanimously, but by a vote 12 to 6 against.

See Planners reject flats beside Glasgow School of Art

It’s kind of hard to see how anyone (from Glasgow at least) without something to gain would be for FOR this proposal.

I’d rather like to see the 6 who voted against being interviewed on TV, and asked to explain the reasons for their desire to see those flats built next to the GSA.

Glasgow School of Art post fire

Glasgow School of Art post fire

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Window madness on the Isle of Bute

Cat window breakI seem to have been following this story – and its variants – regarding replacement windows, the council, listing (as in ‘listed building’), planning permission, and appeals for years.

And I have, as a quick search of the archives on this subject goes back to 2008, which probably means it started some time before then, and that is just when it began to hit the media.

At its simplest, the saga revolves around heritage legislation and the need for planning permission to be granted by the council before work can legally be carried out to modify a listed building. This leaves Bute hotel owners (and others) who want to upgrade their properties with uPVC double glazing (or any other modern window type) with a problem, as they can find that listing means they are obliged to replace like with like. In other word, if the building came with single glazed wooden frames, then that is what they must fit if replaced old worn out windows.

The same rules apply to any owners with listed properties, even private home owners.

The situation has become one of stalemate, with the owners reluctant to fit old style wooden frames, as they wish to upgrade their facilities to make the rooms quieter and warmer for their guests, but the council is standing by the rules and refusing planning permission for the newer and more efficient window, despite repeated applications, and even an appeal to the Scottish Government (also rejected).

There seems to be no way forward, even though the owners have the support of their neighbours, and a number of residents in favour of the new windows, the council appears unwilling to compromise.

Now, an online petition has been organised, together with a paper petition being made available in local businesses:

Bute House Hotel

We, the undersigned, disagree with the decision of Argyll and Bute Council to refuse planning permission for the installation of double-glazed UPVC windows at the Bute House Hotel in Rothesay. Following the Scottish Government’s dismissal of an appeal against refusal, we call on Argyll and Bute Council to reconsider its decision and to work without delay towards a solution which will address the urgent need for quality hotel accommodation on Bute, and be of benefit to the economy of the island.

Petition Bute House Hotel

Web site: Bute House Hotel

See also: Petition urges Bute House Hotel rethink – The Buteman

If you visit The Buteman’s web site, and just insert the word ‘windows’ into the Search Box which appears at the top right of their page, then you will be given a listing of the many stories which have appeared in that publication over the past few years.

Bute House Hotel can be seen below, and is the narrow white building on the right, on the corner of Rothesay’s Guildford Square, just inland of the harbour on the left edge of the pic, as captured by Zak’s Photo Galleries at pbase.com during October 2013.

Update

A response from the council appear later, published in The Buteman and available online:

‘We understand planning frustration’, says councillor – The Buteman

Argyll and Bute Council has apparently gone power mad

At the same time, a local builder working on a private home, which is NOT listed and therefore presumably NOT covered by the rules attached to that status:

John Morrison installed the windows in the property at 19 Battery Place last year, but has now been told Argyll and Bute Council will seek to take action against him unless the windows are removed.

Mr Morrison has hit out at council planning officials’ attitude towards conservation in Rothesay, pointing out that permission was retrospectively approved for UPVC windows at a neighbouring C-listed property in Battery Place – even though Mr Morrison’s own building has no listed status at all.

Council threatens Rothesay builder with action over UPVC windows – The Buteman

While the case of the hotel has to be resolved within the scope of the relevant rules and regulations which apply to listing, the action being taken against the owner of a property which does not fall under this category clearly shows that the personnel within Argyll and Bute Council are not competent to discharge the duties for which they are responsible, and need to be subject to some sort of audit and review which holds them accountable for their actions.

February 13, 2014 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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