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Think big or die, Farrell tells Edinburgh

Terry Farrell has issued a warning to Edinburgh that it risks losing its position as one of Europe’s leading capital cities, unless it takes planning more seriously and shrugs off a ‘legacy of dangerous complacency’

Stepping down from his role as head of the Edinburgh Design Initiative after five years, Farrell left the city 12 challenges to combat ‘the almost complete lack of proactive planning for the future’.

He said: ‘I’m very worried that mature consideration about future changes in Edinburgh has been hobbled by a sterile debate that focuses on individual buildings, rather than the value of the places around them. What is the point of arguing about a change of shop front on Princes Street when a lack of bigger thinking is allowing one of the finest promenading streets in Britain to become a shambles?’

The reinvention of Princes Street is one of the key challenges highlighted by Farrell, together with redeveloping the waterfront and closer ties with Glasgow.

His parting shots were welcomed by Trevor Davies, convenor of Edinburgh’s planning committee between 2003 and 2007, who appointed Farrell to his position as head of the design initiative. He said: ‘He was utterly fair. For some time we have known members of the committee were approving projects that were not good enough.’

David Dunbar, the new president of the RIAS, said: ‘[Farrell] was brought in to proffer advice and anything that stimulates debate can only be a good thing.’

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