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Allan Murray's Caltongate masterplan blasted

Allan Murray Architects' Caltongate masterplan in Edinburgh's Old Town was rocked by fresh criticism yesterday, with claims that the project will attract 'yobs and drug addicts'.

The extraordinary statement comes from the Edinburgh Police Force's architectural liaison officer, who believes the new public square planned for the heart of the project will become a hive for youths, while mini shelters, or 'pends', planned for the square will attract drug users.

In a letter sent to the city council, published by the Edinburgh Evening News, Sergeant Robert Shiel raised concerns of an increase in antisocial behaviour in the proposed development.

Shiel wrote: 'Youths from all over Edinburgh and parts of the Lothians frequently gather in the town centre and engage in antisocial behaviour at weekends.

'One area which regularly experiences problems is the Waverley shopping centre, which is very close to this area, and there is some concern that these problems may spill into this area.'

Although Shiel states he has no doubt that the planned £300 million regeneration scheme will improve the general character of the area, he expressed fears that it could attract drug users.

He added: 'The intention of architects has been to integrate this development with the existing buildings and this has resulted in the creation of public squares and through routes.

'However, some of these routes pass through public pends [and] they create their own problems. There have been many examples of pends being used by people as a shelter, toilet and somewhere to inject intravenous drugs.'

The report is just a the latest in a long line of criticism aimed at Murray's masterplan, which has, along with Malcolm Fraser's proposals, been attacked by both the council and heritage groups.

Earlier this month, the city council's new Liberal Democrat leader Jenny Dawe claimed Fraser's planned scheme to be 'grotesque'.

At the time of writing Murray was unavailable for comment.

by Richard Vaughan

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