Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where there's muck ...

Oh, dear ...

An artist's impression of the proposed 'Science City'.
Sunshine courtsey of global warming.

Another master plan for what little remains of this historic and, at times and places, beautiful city. Get the 'full' (sic) story here.
I note that one voice remains to be convinced:

"Nick Kemp, who leads Newcastle Council’s regeneration scrutiny panel, welcomed the overall “positive” move, but argued that clarity was needed over some of the developments. 
He questioned the “obsession” with plans for a conference convention centre on Gateshead Quays, saying he had seen “no response still as to what other options were considered since the location is an accessibility nightmare and the infrastructure required will add massively to the cost”. – The Journal Ibid.

I do not see a glittering career ahead for Mr Kemp, somehow. He had better learn to toe the line and quick.

Schemes like this (and there are many, with all the U.K. regions involved in a pitiless battle to make themselves attractive to scarce 'inward investment') make money for professionals – consultants, building conglomerates and planners. Less frequently they pay for themselves and leave something useful behind. Too frequently, they do not. Newcastle is currently awash with three decades worth of unlet office blocks, some brand new.

The announcement in the Journal casually throws in this gem:

" [The scheme] will prioritise efforts to build new business premises on either side of the River Tyne, set up a new home for the cultural sector in the Ouseburn, ..." 

'New' will amuse many. The Smazz Jazz organisation has been putting on national quality performers at the Cluny venue over the years. Recently the Arts Council North turned them down for a measly sum of money. When I last looked, Cluny, set up by arts activist's and paid for chiefly with their own time and money, was in the Lower Ouseburn . The Waygood Affair is a saga in itself – I will not say much except that it does not sit well with these soothing words of a pay off for the arts in these ambitious schemes; surely, people are getting wise to the use of the arts as a fig leaf for rapacious developers? Artist led organisations must be waking up the realities of jumping into bed with developers whose main task is to attract corporate investors? "He who pays the piper" is another saying which still has life in it.

Meanwhile, another round of gimcrack building is being planned as we sleep.

It will all end in tears ...

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