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Profession reacts to Scottish referendum no vote


‘Disappointment’ and ‘relief’ from architects as Scotland rejects independence

Although more than 1.6 million people voted to leave the United Kingdom, 55 per cent of the population opted against Scotland becoming an independent country following an impressive 85 per cent turn out.

Speaking shortly after the announcement, Peter Wilson, director of the Wood Studio research centre at Edinburgh Napier University who was involved in the Architects for Yes campaign, said: ‘I’m obviously very disappointed. On the other hand the results show a large proportion of the vote wanted change.’

‘If you don’t want to talk about change that is the route to extinction.’

‘The referendum has recognised that Westminster can’t deliver anymore - it has been a wake-up call. The proof in the pudding will be whether the Westminster MPs will be able to deliver on the promises which they drew up on the back of a fag packet in the final fews days before the vote.’

Wilson suggested that the campaign group Architects for Yes could become a new, invigorated lobby called Architects for change. He said: ‘The progression has always been apolitical, but that has never benefited it in anyway. We are no better off today than we were yesterday. There are a lot of issues facing the profession which need to be reflected and the referendum has crystallised a lot of those challenges. There needs to be a change of ambition.’

Glasgow-based architect Alan Dunlop, who also backed the yes campaign, said: ‘[The result] seems to be to be a triumph of fear over optimism; of risk aversion over opportunity. The no campaign was very negative and that was deeply sad.

‘I was for independence but I am not a nationalist. The nationalists had clearly the most competent politicians and presented a vision for the future, obscured by meaningless and divergent tactics like the debate over the currency . 

‘However, like most Scots I will of course accept the result and get on with it and look forward to the much promised devolved powers.’

However, Edinburgh-based Richard Murphy, who championed the Better Together campaign, said he was ‘enormously relieved’ by the result.

He told the AJ: ‘For a few days we looked into the abyss and I was exceptionally concerned. Despite all the talk of it being energising, for many people, including myself, it has not been an enjoyable process.

For a few days we looked into the abyss

‘The threat to re-emerging prosperity was very real. At a personal level friendships have been broken and bridges need to be rebuilt.

‘But the only phrase of Alex Salmond’s that I have agreed with is that “this will be the settled will of the people of Scotland.” So be it. Let’s now move on.’

Rab Bennetts, whose practice Bennetts Associates celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Edinburgh office next week, said: ‘The result is a huge relief. Our commitment to Scotland was never in doubt, but the campaign made me realise the importance of the UK.  The hard work to find a more equitable relationship between its constituent parts starts now.’

The pound hit a two-year high against the euro and share prices rose when the markets opened following the results. David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation called for the return of ‘political certainty’ to regain market confidence in the commercial property sector.

He said: ‘Certainty on the content and substance of the UK political parties’ proposals to enhance the powers of Holyrood and a commitment by the Scottish Government to work constructively with this process is vital if we are to ensure normal business and investment activity in the wake of the uncertainties expressed during the referendum campaign.’

Other comments:

Peter Drummond of Peter Drummond Architects
‘Notwithstanding the statements in the media overnight and this morning, the only real winners are the bookies: if 45% of the population are ready to walk out the door, then it tells us all how disaffected people are with the political status quo.  The vote (and the massive turnout) sends a clear message that the people of Scotland want change.  The promises of change – real change, not just window dressing – have to be delivered, or else we’re going to find ourselves in exactly the same position in just a few years time.  This can’t be like 1979, when promises of greater powers were conveniently forgotten within a few months.

‘Most architects who voted Yes did so not out of an overt sense of nationalism, but rather out of a belief that change could be best effected at the local level – that it was Holyrood, not Westminster, who could deliver the necessary policies and finances to help regenerate our built environment and, through that, our communities.   For example look at how the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF) and Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) have made a huge difference for towns such as Kilmarnock or Falkirk. 

‘Much of this could, however, arguably also be delivered through what is effectively devo-max.  The No campaign has also given the impression that powers are coming to Scotland that will make a real difference to lives here: this means the offer has to be much more substantial than current proposals – or the Westminster parties will pay a heavy political price at the next Scottish elections.’

Kieran Gaffney of Konishi Gaffney
‘I’m very disappointed not just that we lost, which was expected, but that it wasn’t closer. George Monbiot’s Guardian headline is ringing in my ears: “Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm”.

Kevin Bradley, head of Scotland, programme cost consulting, AECOM
‘Provided the result is accepted as permanent and the risk of any ongoing campaign is removed it takes away uncertainty for investors, and we are likely to see a significant increase in commercial property transactions over the coming months.  The Government is committed to investment in public infrastructure to secure long term economic growth, so we would anticipate an announcement of this pipeline in the autumn to prime the market for delivery.
‘This could result in additional funding for public sector infrastructure investment as well as potentially tax advantageous conditions to attract foreign direct investment and for private sector businesses to locate in Scotland.’




Readers' comments (2)

  • Now let's all pull together and resolve the longstanding socio-economic problems across large parts of post-industrial Scotland.
    The Referendum was a needless distraction. Blaming a constitutional issue for decades of evasion and neglect within Scotland, especially at a local level, must now come to an end.
    The people of Scotland have been energised as never before. It is a bottom-up not top-dowm revolution that we need.
    A successful people drive a successful economy. Inequalities and deprivation must be addressed as the priority.
    For architects, this means place-keeping, not place-making; raising the general standard in cooperation and harness with local communities; and no more vanity projects that only favour a few individuals and interests.
    We must recover a social democratic mission for architects, re-framed in 21st century terms.

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  • Mr Rodwell, you contradict yourself in your analysis. You say that the referendum was a needless distraction, but then you say that the people have been energised as never before.You then say we need a bottom-up revolution...

    The referendum campaign has been a bottom-up revolution of boundless energy and it is not going away. The people of Scotland now feel empowered, and to deal with the inequalities of society we can not rely on Westminster. Please read Malcolm Fraser's contribution for a manifesto for change.

    The Yes movement goes on.

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