Today was the presentation of the Trump-Menie Masterplan/Sales Pitch to the great and good (plus me!).
I have no hesitation in saying the the developing zoning diagram (for that is all that yet exists) is better than the dreadful vision presented at the planning application and public local inquiry. But then neither of those could take into account the prospect of 8 storey apartment blocks and the ridiculously designed hotel (I tended to think of it as the bastard child of a Florida beach apartment and Marischall College (sorry, MC)) - it was after all outline planning permission.
For a nice summary of what is proposed see Jonathan Meades polemic at the end of this video.
But I found it interesting how jumpy Sarah Malone (the local quine face of the development) was when I asked the entirely predictable question about future public engagement beyond the current exhibition. And was highly amused to have Ann Faulds, Trump's legal advisor jump in with statements such as we don't have to do any public engagement and we have on board the people who wrote the planning advice notes. I'm just one woman asking a perfectly polite question that they knew in advance I would ask. Dear, dear. No need to be so defensive.
But according to Ann Faulds it does appear that there is a plan for public engagement ... but it won't be published. Why not? What is there to hide?
Other aspects of the presentation that interested me ....
400 units are included in the outline planning permission. There was no mention of these units tonight nor can I find a reference in the nice glossy brochure they were handing out.
Are they being added into the residential area?
If so, why couldn't the 100 affordable houses also be included ... in fact why couldn't the 100 affordable units be incororated anyway?
If they are no longer part of the plan, doesn't that mean the Transport assessments need to be redone?
Separation of Resort and Housing
This still persists. Gareth Hoskins was brave enough to mention the words "gated community" and it wasn't clear to me whether this was what he was designing or whether the resort was to be "exclusive" in a very real sense but the housing was to be more permeable - or whether the whole gated community thing still exists for the whole development.
The "vision" includes a village centre and words such as community facilities, shops, pubs, cafes were freely bandied about. But unless there is a firm connection to the 950 holiday apartments and the 450 bedroom hotel in the resort, a shop, a cafe and a pub will not be viable (unless Trumpton on Sea is a lot different to other villages in this part of the world) . I think there is a problem here that the zoning diagram thus far hasn't addressed.
The zoning diagram shows routes from the land across the dunes and even a link from the residential area to Petten's church. So far so good.
But parking for the general public?
Details of access beyond Pettens into Balmedie?
What about access to/from Foveran and Newburgh? Balmedie village is about 1.5-2km from the houses. Foveran is a just a little further from the resort apartments and Newburgh is about 3km away. But these are all readily within walk/cycle distance.
To follow - but we don't know when as this is the big secret - is some form of Design Code to define the look of the buildings on the site.
Do go and have a look - and you may even want to fill in a comments sheet. Your comments will be confidential. Sounds good that, doesn't it? But it also means that we will never know what is said or whether anyone's comments, however valid, are listened to. Or, more likely, are we back in the Groundhog Day of the public local inquiry when Dr Dargie (environment), Prof Ritchie (geomorpology) and Mr Hawtree (golf course) all said that they have advised macDonald to stay off the SSSI and had been told this wasn't part of the plan.
That's all a bit depressing so to cheer us up a bit - beauty does that - let's remind ourselves just what a special place the Menie dunes are. Please click on this photo to see a stunning interactive panorama. Move your cursor to see the entire 360 degree view.
Thanks to www.RobinWilson.net for this superb image - and do come and walk on the dunes while you can.