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Profession reacts as SNP wins third term in power in Scotland

Scottish parliament
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Architects have given a mixed reaction to news that the Scottish National Party (SNP) has secured a third term in power following yesterday’s parliamentary elections

However the party, led by Nicola Sturgeon, will have to govern as either a minority administration or form a coalition partner after falling two seats short of gaining a parliamentary majority.

The SNP slip (from 69 seats in 2011 to 63 in 2016) was mainly due to the resurgence of the Scottish Conservatives who more than doubled the number of its seats.

The Conservatives are now the largest opposition party, deposing Scottish Labour which had a poor night. 

Glasgow-based Alan Dunlop said the result would mean ’little will change for architects [with] “best value” continuing to be the mantra’ in the procurement of buildings leading to the further marginalisation of the profession in Scotland.

However Peter Drummond of Glasgow-based conservation specialists Peter Drummond Architects was more optimistic, predicting a coalition between the SNP and the Green party.

He told the AJ: ’I hope that the Scottish Government continues its policy of investing in our historic town centres over the last two terms…areas where the devolved national administration has taken a firm and very successful line not seen elsewhere in the UK.’

The results

SNP 63

Scottish Conservatives 31

Scottish Labour 24

Scottish Greens 6

Scottish Liberal Democrats 5

What do you think of the election results? Email AJ news editor Richard Waite with your comments


Malcolm Fraser of Halliday Fraser Munro
’What the election seems to confirm is a careful conservatism - small c still - at the heart of Scottish political culture.

’Change has been incremental, with small gains around land reform, community empowerment, housing policy, procurement and roads towards tax and local government reform (and even Town Centres, with my Government Review’s “Town Centre First Policy” being accepted across all Local Authorities and Government Departments and refocussing policy).

’But the undercurrent of radical change needed – such as a Land Value Tax and Compulsory Sales Orders on landbanks, Offshore transparency, Public Procurement instead of the SNP’s PPP-light “Hub” policies or an industrial shift from oil and warships to renewables and merchant ships – craves bold action.

’The obvious need for the SNP to work with the Green Party is good news, with the hope that the bold and effective Scottish Greens can be at the heart of Government and embolden Scottish policy.’

Professor Alan Dunlop of Alan Dunlop Architecta
’Although the results show a substantial win for the SNP, they do not now have a majority which is good. The country needs a credible opposition, which ironically will now be provided by the Conservatives, not Labour, who have not been able to recover from their disastrous approach to the independence referendum.

’Despite a much trumpeted arts and architecture policy, bizarrely lauded by the RIAS, the SNP victory means little will change for architects and the built environment. ‘Best value’ will continue to be the mantra; public projects will still be delivered by contractors; architects will continue to be marginalised and the profession will continue to struggle to realise even decent fee levels.

’The SNP procurement route for public projects called Non Profit Distributing run by the Scottish Futures Trust is PPP in a different guise, or PPP Lite as it is known means small to medium-sized practices will continue to be ignored as a consequence of a ludicrous PQQ bidding process for public projects.’

Peter Drummond of Peter Drummond Architects
’I’d hope that the Scottish Government continues its policy of investing in our historic town centres over the last two terms, through both the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) and Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF), areas where the devolved national administration has taken a firm and very successful line not seen elsewhere in the UK.

‘Several influential ministers have been very supportive and I am genuinely hopefully that these seem people will be in the new cabinet, when announced.’

’Developers rely on funding and funders like stability’

James Nelmes of Bennetts Associates Architects
“In our experience, consistency in governance has a discernibly positive impact on development and the built environment. Developers rely on funding and funders like stability.

’As architects and as a practice we are always interested in political agendas which are motivated by social considerations. It would be fabulous to see Holyrood develop and, crucially, pursue a strong, consistent agenda for architecture, place making and development in Scotland’

Murray Kerr of Denizen Works
’Continuity is always a good thing - as long as you like where you are at the moment. I would think that the development world is more concerned about the EU referendum at the moment and this result will have little or no bearing until we know the result.’

SNP Scottish parliamentary victory 2016

SNP Scottish parliamentary victory 2016

Nicola Sturgeon on the cover of the SNP manifesto 2015

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