Just returned from Edinburgh where I spoke at a couple of events organised by the Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust. Saturday afternoon saw a packed crowd of community organisors turn out for an afternoon seminar on the themes covered in Ground Control. The best thing about the day was the sense of enthusiasm about where the city finds itself post financial crash and what can be done. A key focus was the Caltongate site in Canongate. The development there, like so many others around the country, has stalled following the financial crisis and despite a number of possible alternative uses - including a literary centre - the council is so far failing to consider alternatives and hoping to resurrect the privatised mall model, despite very considerable opposition.
The upshot was a number of suggestions to take things forward and the Trust has a series of meetings and seminars planned to coordinate activities. The day produced a number of ideas that I really hope are followed up. These include setting up a 'Free the spaces database' to coordinate community groups engaged in similar issues around the country, which is a much needed resource. Another idea I particularly liked was 'Site Seeing', alternative walking tours organised around the key areas under discussion, to which local decision makers would also be invited.