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Public lied to over Scottish Parliament building's design and impact on locals


Sir, The Fraser Inquiry into the New Scottish Parliament project is now complete and a public report expected in September.

In the closing days of the proceedings it was revealed that the project contravened anti-terrorist design guidelines, namely regarding a 25 m open space around the perimeter.

Indeed, it transpires that the subsequent design changes (bomb-proofing) to accommodate this breach, and its associated increase in cost, were acknowledged as far back as 1998.

Let's consider this project as a potential nominee for inclusion in the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which has the purpose of improving the image of construction through better management and presentation of sites, with an emphasis on improving relationships with the local community.

The CCS eight-point code of practice makes particular note of establishing good relationships with project neighbours.

Given the breach of the 25 m rule, parts of the finished structure are precariously close to adjacent flats in Reid's Close.

The Scottish press recently interviewed three elderly residents from this street. In 1998 they were given reassurances that the completed building would not encroach on their view or damage their quality of life.

But they now have a blank wall to view, rather than the Salisbury Crags. And the memories of noise and dust from the project have not been forgotten, despite a gift of a hamper at Christmas.

One resident expressed her views about the building in a forthright manner:

'They've just done what they like because we're old. I sometimes wonder, before I go, if I could get a big bomb and get rid of it.'

While the public servants in their bombproofed building are now sheltered from terror, local residents, given their proximity, are now overly exposed.With some of them clearly having already considered direct action perhaps we should beware the 'bluerinse terrorist'.

Dr Mike Murray Lecturer in Construction Management Department of Architecture University of Strathclyde Glasgow