New Cockburn Association chair Barbara Cummins needs to ensure a consistent, even-handed approach to proposed developments – John McLellan
Very best of luck to Barbara Cummins who is taking over as chair of the Cockburn Association heritage watchdog, and having been Historic Environment Scotland’s heritage director and leader of the city council’s listed buildings and city centre development management teams, there’s no doubting her qualifications for the job. “I know the Cockburn has an important role to play in helping to shape the future, as well as celebrating the past, of this unique city,” said Ms Cummins, and she’s not wrong.
As a significant planning consultee, its views matter, but in recent years its approach to major city centre projects has appeared inconsistent, supporting the massive concrete drum for the Dunard concert hall, but helping to defeat exciting plans to replace the crumbling Ross Bandstand. The impact of the concert hall on the grade A-listed Dundas House should have been clear to a heritage organisation but this was brushed aside, only for a redesign to be forced by a judicial review. Meanwhile, the Ross Bandstand remains a rotting millstone round the city’s neck.
It fought plans to renovate the dreadful Waverley Centre but enthusiastically supported the music school plan for the Royal High which involves constructing a huge entrance under the historic portico. It has allowed the impression to gather that its views depend as much on who is doing the proposing than what is being proposed, and to be a truly effective contributor to the debate about the city’s future, Ms Cummins needs to ensure it is demonstrably even-handed.