Riverside Drive – new footpath

Residents have recently commented to me about the new footpath being constructed round the building site at the old Homebase in Riverside Drive, where flats are to be constructed.

It is correctly being built at the ‘road’ side to avoid the public safety concerns about the old claustrophobic pathway that previously ran at the ‘railway’ side, but residents have raised concerns that the new footpath at the road side is both narrow and has been built right against the (extremely busy) road edge.   There is already a little bit of existing footpath at the road edge just past (east) the entrance to Tesco but it is wider and very short.

I have asked the City Council to confirm if this is to be the permanent footpath?   I have echoed to the City Council the views of local residents who feel that, from a safety perspective, it would be much better if this pavement was back off the road a bit.

Homebase site – Riverside Drive

I recently raised with the owners of the disused Homebase site on Riverside Drive residents’ concerns about a gap in the security fencing round the site.

The owners, H&H Properties, responded assuring me that a prompt repair would be carried out and this has indeed since taken place.

H&H Properties also confirmed to me that it is intended to start work on-site in late April or early May, with the piling contractor being on-site during May and June.

Although I was opposed to the original planning application as I feel more could be made of this site with stunning views across the River Tay, the fact that development is to move forward will at least ensure that an unsightly gap site will come into a useful future use as apartments close to the City Centre, cultural quarter, V&A at Dundee and the rail station.

Graffiti Action Day – 1

This morning, along with West End residents, city council representatives, fellow councillors, a local community police officer and with assistance through the Community Justice Authority, we undertook the first of two days of graffiti clean ups – starting at the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive and getting rid of the mess along Roseangle, including the Tay Rope Works site.
Superb start, and it was great to see the community spirit of many residents who came along and helped today. More tomorrow – the north of the West End Ward – but here’s a few photos from today :
Above : some of the team

Above : Homebase before
Above : And after …

Cleaning up graffiti in the West End

As reported tonight in the Evening Telegraph, this morning I attended the graffiti clean-up by Scottish and Southern Energy of Electricity Sub Stations across the West End – the photo (below) is of me with some of the Scottish and Southern team at Milnbank Road.

Tomorrow morning, the West End graffiti weekend graffiti clean-up by residents, councillors, community groups, and supported by the City Council, begins in earnest at the former Homebase site in Riverside Drive.

Homebase Site sold

PricewaterhouseCoopers, admininstrators of the former Homebase site in Riverside Drive have advised me of the sale of the site at the end of last week :
“I am able to confirm that the sale of the site completed on Friday.  The purchaser is H&H Properties (UK) Limited of Dundee.”
The “Evening Telegraph” printed my comments about the sale last night – see http://tinyurl.com/homebasesale.    It appears from today’s “Courier” that the new owner intends to press ahead with the exisiting planning approval for over 200 flats.   This is, in my view, a missed opportunity to consider a smaller scale development on a site with superb views across the River Tay.   Nonetheless, it is good that the site has been sold, having sat as a target for vandalism for many months.

November West End Community Council Update

I have now launched my November Update to West End Community Council.

Subjects covered include school buses in the West End, Dundee Airport parking charges, West End Christmas Week, signs in Osborne Place and the boundary fencing round the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive.

You can read the update by going to http://tinyurl.com/weccnov09.

The Community Council meets tomorrow at 7pm, at Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall in Shaftesbury Terrace.

Former Homebase site

Earlier this week, I received concerns that parts of the hoardings around the former Homebase site in Riverside Drive had been damaged and had fallen/were missing. I contacted the administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, who responded late yesterday as follows :
“We instructed the necessary repair works and have now been notified by our agent that these were completed earlier today.”

Homebase site latest

Further to my last update on the good news that the administrators of the Riverside Drive former Homebase site had agreed to my request to restore the original pavement and remove the claustrophobic pathway to the north of the site, I have now been informed by an officer in the City Council’s City Development Department that :

“The works will commence on Monday 24th August and will be completed within 5 days. I will instruct the contractor to reinstate the footpath and kerbing etc. back to its original condition and alignment, which will allow the original means of access for all pedestrians along Riverside Drive. I will also insist on the temporary footpath (formed adjacent to the railway line) to be blocked off to negate any further vandalism.”

Former Homebase site – good news

As reported in tonight’s “Evening Telegraph”, I am very pleased indeed at the positive response from PricewaterhouseCoopers, administrators of the developers who owned the former Homebase site – and the Royal Bank of Scotland, principal lenders, who have now agreed to my request to remove a temporary pathway around the site in Riverside Drive and restore the more open and safe original pathway around it.
I had raised the matter with PricewaterhouseCoopers following many residents’ concerns about the safety on the temporary pathway that is claustrophobic and where a local resident was assaulted and robbed.
Bruce Cartwright, the joint administrator from PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote to me today in the following terms :
“We spoke again last Friday but I thought it also appropriate to confirm in writing the outcome of our discussions with regard to the site at Riverside Drive owned by Duncarse, a company over which I have been appointed Administrator.
“As you know, the path alongside the site was moved to accommodate the proposed building works prior to our involvement. We have encountered difficulties due to vandalism and while we have taken steps in the past to repair the lighting I was also distressed to hear that one of your constituents had been the subject of a robbery on the path due to its enclosed nature.
“I indicated to you previously that as the building work was no longer imminent I was in agreement that it would be in the interests of the local community to restore the path to its original position by moving the hoarding.
“I am pleased to confirm that after discussion with the Royal Bank of Scotland who were the primary lender to the company, the Bank has agreed to provide me with funds to allow the necessary work to be carried out. We are treating this as a matter of urgency and we will be instructing contractors this week.
“On a less positive note you may not be aware but we discovered late on Friday that the site had been subjected to considerable vandalism last Thursday/Friday and as a result we took immediate steps to disconnect the electricity due as a matter of public safety. This confirms our shared view that the restoration of the path makes sense both in terms of open access and avoidance of further damage to electric cables.”
This move by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Royal Bank of Scotland is very positive and I am pleased that the companies have responded in a positive manner to the public concerns.
I think that local people will be pleased to see the original pathway restored and this will remove the many safety concerns that have been raised about the temporary pathway.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has also said it will assist with any initiative to have graffiti cleaned up once the hoardings are moved and I am hopeful that a community initiative to tackle the extensive graffiti mess may be possible.

Thursday Updates

* ‘V and A at Dundee’ – hopeful of progress : I understand that, next Monday, Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and Mike Russell MSP, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, will make an announcement relating to the ‘V and A at Dundee’ project.
A feasibility study conducted for the project steering group by Whetstone Group and Conran & Partners, launched in February 2009 at the”V and A at Dundee: Making it Happen” conference, concluded that ‘V and A at Dundee’ would have significant economic and cultural benefits for Dundee, Tayside and Scotland.
For the many of us in the city that can see the enormous advantages to Dundee – and its waterfront project in particular – of the “V and A at Dundee” proposal, I am hoping we will hear next Monday a specific commitment to proceed with the project and that Scottish Government is going to make all necessary funding available.
* In response to a letter about the former Homebase site, published in the Evening Telegraph earlier this week, I have a letter in tonight’s edition – see http://tinyurl.com/homebaselttr.

* At lunchtime today, three of my fellow councillors and I had a briefing on progress being made by the Dundee Travel Active project, aiming to encourage residents of, or visitors to, Dundee to walk or cycle a little more to improve people’s health and the environment. Its core target area includes much of the West End. You can read more about Dundee Travel Active by going to http://tinyurl.com/travelactive.

Update on the Homebase site safety concerns

Blogger back in business, so – as reported in today’s ‘Courier’ – I have had useful discussions with the administrators of the former Duncarse Riverside Ltd in respect of the former Homebase site. Here’s my News Release from yesterday on the subject :

“Dundee City Councillor for the West End, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, said today that he had had constructive discussions with the administrators of the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive, following concerns about public safety around the site. There have been a number of incidents of concern on the temporary pathway around the site including an assault and robbery on it, and residents have described the pathway as unsafe, claustrophobic and a public danger.
Cllr Macpherson revealed that he had been in talks with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators of the former owners of the site – Duncarse Riverside Ltd – about the possibility of the perimeter hoardings being moved to allow for the restoration of the original far more ‘open’ and safer pathway to the south of the site to be restored, pending the site being sold and construction work commencing at some point in the future.
Cllr Macpherson said, “Although there are issues about how any works would be funded and this is yet to be resolved, I do have to say that the administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers do appear anxious to find a solution to this and view, in principle, restoration of the original pathway as a sensible thing to do.
“Discussions will continue later this week and I am pleased that we are at last making some progress on this problem.”
Cllr Macpherson said that the possibility of graffiti removal at the site had also been discussed. He added, “The graffiti is pretty awful and no advertisement for the city for those arriving by train or along Riverside Drive by car – it would be good to see this mess cleaned away as soon as possible.”

Busy Wednesday …

As well as a large number of constituent issues and problems to deal with yesterday I also :
* Attended a very interesting briefing by the City Council on the proposed “Winter Light Night” in Dundee – taking place on Friday 27th November. The evening will offer exciting entertainment, both visual and aural mixing light and music against a backdrop of street markets, performance and entertainment, street art, illuminations, torchlight processions, heritage walks, story telling , late opening shopping and cultural venues.
Winter Light Night will take place during this year’s West End Christmas Week and as the activities will take place in Tay Square and around DCA/Sensation as well as across the City Centre, its hoped that many West End residents will attend and participate. More on this in the coming weeks …
* Following on from the continuiung concerns about the unsafe pathway at the former Homebase site I raised again earlier this week (go to http://tinyurl.com/homebaseconcern to view more), I had a very useful meeting with one of the City Council’s solicitors about the issue. He is looking into all aspects of the situation and will in the near future be in a position to provide a full legal opinion. I am anxious that the temporary pathway is replaced with a safer, less claustrophobic, path, I hope before the darker winter nights arrive.

Concerns about the former Homebase site

For many months, I have highlighted the safety concerns about the dreadful pathway around the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive. Go to http://tinyurl.com/dundeeriverside to view an earlier blog entry on this concern.
Last night’s “Evening Telegraph” covered the assault and robbery of one of my constituents on the pathway. I spoke with her on Sunday; it was a terrible experience for this lady and it reinforces my view (and hers) that the temporary pathway is unsafe and must be replaced with a safer, less claustrophobic, path.
I am meeting with a representative of the City Council’s Legal Section tomorrow to discuss what legal steps may be taken over this matter.

Former Homebase site and the railway station

I recently wrote a response to a concern raied in the “Evening Telegraph” by a visitor to the city about eyesores on entry to the city by train – including the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive (covered in graffiti) and the railway station’s condition.


My response is in tonight’s edition and you can read this by going to http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/output/2009/06/05/letters.shtm.

May 2009 West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my May 2009 update to West End Community Council.

Issues covered include :

• Riverside Drive – Homebase site

• Wheelie Bins

• Wimberley

 • Bollards at Taylor’s Lane

 • Seagulls

 • Hotel planning application

 • Proposed Riverside Nature Park

 • HMO Policy

 • Richmond Terrace

 The Community Council meets next Tuesday (12th May) at 7pm in Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

 You can download the Community Council Update by going to :  http://dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/ 

Former Homebase site – safety concerns

I am pleased that the City Council has responded to my concerns about safety at the former Homebase site in Riverside Drive, following the developer at the site going into administration.
In recent weeks, I have been inundated with residents’ complaints about the mess around the site’s periphery – including graffiti – but also about safety concerns regarding the temporary pathway the developer (Duncarse Residential, now in administration) had constructed on the northern edge of the site to replace the original pathway linking the West End from Riverside Approach to Tesco Riverside and the City Centre.
I was never happy with the temporary pathway – it is narrow and not nearly so open and accessible as the previous access around the former Homebase was, but since the developer has gone into administration, matters have got a whole lot worse, with vandalism of lighting and graffiti all over the site hoardings.
The major concern, however, is that, with no developer proactively building on the site, the potential for this unsatisfactory path remaining there for months – possibly even years – exists and that’s a totally unacceptable situation.
I have met with the Director of Planning & Transportation on a number of occasions recently about my concerns and the matter has also been highlighted at meetings of West End Community Council.
The Director of Planning & Transportation has fully appreciated the situation and is anxious to see the matter sorted as a matter of urgency.
The Director has now written to the administrators of Duncarse Residential – Pricewaterhouse Coopers – requesting that they take steps to take down the hoarding and re-erecting it behind the old footway next to Riverside Drive – that way a safe pathway can be restored pending the future of the site being determined.
I am pleased this action has been taken and I’m obviously hoping for a positive response from the administrators.    Clearly, the council would have to look at its enforcement powers if there is no response or a lack of action, but I feel sure the administrators will appreciate the safety issue here and take steps as soon as possible.
Here’s some photos of the site area :

Above : Narrow pathway looking east

 Above : Pathway looking west

 Above :  Me, photographed beside some of the very extensive graffiti

 Above :  The deserted site compound

May 2008 Update to the West End Community Council

I have today launched my May update to West End Community Council.
Issues covered include:
* Perth Road – gas main replacement works
* Youth football
* Dundee airport – helicopter noise
* Homebase site – update
* Riverside Approach – site visit with Network Rail

Click on the headline above to read the update.

The Community Council meets this Tuesday at 7pm – location : Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

Couple of updates …

Firstly, some positive news regarding the walkway at the construction site that was formerly Homebase on Riverside Drive. Although the issues of pedestrian signage and sight lines for drivers were addressed by the developer, I continue to receive concerns from residents about the “claustrophobic” pedestrian pathway to the north of the site.
At my request, the City Council approached the developer about this. Widening the path or moving it is not possible because of the construction footprint, but the developer has agreed to have the boundary fencing painted a light colour – it is presently dark brown and this adds to the claustrophobic feel.
On another matter entirely, the City Council has recently undertaken a trial of expanding plastics recycling. I have received many requests from West End residents to see plastics recycling at more of the recycling centres (it is currently only available at a limited number of sites such as Marchbanks, Riverside & Baldovie).
A trial additional “neighbourhood” site was chosen for the trial (at a site in Broughty Ferry – chosen because it had room for additional bins and was a “medium busy site”).
The Waste Management Department has advised me that:

“The trial has been successful in that the bins have been relatively well used and also used properly – i.e. not contaminated with other materials.

” … further assessment is being carried out of our operational capacity for additional collections. A study is planned to establish whether we have the capacity to service additional plastic recycling bins at all our Recycling Points. The results of this study will determine how we proceed. It should also be noted that at many of our Recycling Points there is not enough space for introducing additional containers for plastic bottles.”

I have been promised a further update from the City Council once the assessment of collection capacity has been completed, but, meantime, I have made the point that numerous residents in the West End have requested an expansion of plastic recycling availability and it would be good to see this at recycling centres such as at Roseangle and Pennycook Lane.

Riverside updates

As reported in today’s Courier, I have been back in touch with the City Council’s Waste Management Department for an update on the proposed Riverside Nature Park around the civic amenity site.

I have been told that the City Council has recently had a meeting with Scottish Government and SEPA which was productive.

There are, as a result, two meetings arranged in the near future between the City Council and SEPA in order to plan the way forward.

The Head of Waste Management has agreed to meet me after these meetings have taken place to discuss what progress has been made.
As I receive very regular comments from residents saying they’d very much like to see progress towards opening the site to the public, it is good to see some positive moves towards this.

Further east along Riverside Drive, following concerns raised by West End Community Council, I have asked that the lighting on the south side – opposite the former Homebase site – is checked as some of it appears damaged. The street lighting team is investigating this.

Riverside Drive Update

I am pleased at the outcome of discussions between the City Council and a developer over traffic and pedestrian safety on Riverside Drive at the former “Homebase” site where around 200 apartment flats are under construction.

There has been considerable disquiet from residents about a number of aspects of the traffic and pedestrian arrangements during the construction phase. I contacted the City Council about these last week and a Planning & Transport Officer met a representative of the developer earlier today onsite to look at these. There has been agreement on a number of safety improvements which, when implemented, will hopefully address many of the concerns raised.

One of the main issues raised was the loss of good sight lines for drivers caused by the height of the barriers around the site. This affects drivers leaving the Tesco site and entering Riverside Drive from a mini-roundabout and, following discussions with Council Road Safety Officers, today’s site visit resulted in agreement that 15-20 metres of the barriers near to the roundabout will be moved northwards away from the roadway, which will address the sight lines problem. A temporary inside lane closure on Riverside Drive immediately west of the roundabout will take place tomorrow to ensure the works are carried out without delay.

One of the other issues raised has been what residents feel has been an inadequate amount of signage for pedestrians to make clear that pedestrian access continues via a pathway on the north edge of the site. Again, agreement has been reached for more, improved signage at both the east and west ends of the site, and at the west side, barriers will be placed to avoid any pedestrians walking towards the south side and the busy roadway in error.

There is another concern about the pedestrian pathway width and discussions are ongoing as to possible solutions here.

West End Community Council : December 2007 Update

I have today launched my December 2007 Update to West End Community Council.
Issues covered include road safety (including Westfield Place and Logie Avenue/Ashbank Road), the western end of Seabraes and the Homebase site.
The Community Council meets this forthcoming Tuesday (11th December) at Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.
You can download a copy of the update by clicking on the rather lengthly link below!

Ok, Corrie over, here’s the rest …

And taking of Corrie, got a really nice e-mail from Glenda (aka Flaming Nora) editor of Corrieblog following my earlier blog about Coronation Street and www.corrieblog.tv – and she tells me LibDems have already been mentioned on the Corrie Blog (click on headline above to view!)
Ok, back to business! Homebase site – lots of residents asking what’s happening with the site following planning approval. You’ll recall I was strongly against the planning application but it was unfortunately approved last December. Here’s the latest feedback from the City Council planning officer :-
“I have recently contacted the applicants agent (11.10.2006) who has advised that, at this time, it is intended to commence demolition of the Homebase building early 2007 (Jan / Feb). This is anticipated to take approx. 8 weeks as material to be recycled on site and re-used in development works. Construction works anticipated to commence mid 2007.”
A fair bit of white coloured graffiti has appeared at Sinderins (and mentioned at Community Council last night) – I have reported this to Waste Management asking that the Rapid Response Team remove it.
And taking of graffiti, complaints about more graffiti at Seabraes – this time on the viewing platforms – SET tell me they have passed on my complaint to their sub-contractor.