More Ugly New Flats

[picture of 540 Pollokshaws Rd]THERE IS A TREND FOR BUILDING UGLY FLATS ALONGSIDE THE RAIL LINE THAT RUNS PARALLEL WITH THE A77.

In my Ugly New Flats

Look at the picture, the ugly new flats opposite Cuthbertson Street are still visible in the middle-left. The green boarding is what was once Wylie’s Ford Dealership (still showing on the Google Map is the white Deco frontage of the dealership’s main showroom and offices), now cleared away for more ugly flats with bars at the windows, graffiti and a “penthouse” with shite views!

These flats, in this picture, obscure St. Ninian’s — and they offer a view of the railway but also of a Kwik Fit repair shop! But these flats are set back with balconies so that the owners can wave to people on the double decker buses! The balconies do not get much sun, and again, it seems incredible that they built so close to the pavement on such a busy road. Oh, if only architects were free to build freely again! Then again, there are a few things about this building that are design flaws — so what a shame for the lovely people who have to actually live there.

[Picture of ugly flats on Pollokshaws Rd]For a start, look at the stupidity of the design of the con[Picture of stupid controlled Entry]trolled entry — you are supposed to stand out in the rain on a noisy, busy main road. You press the button and listen for the voice coming from the wee speaker — then you speak into the microphone. Then the person indoors releases the door lock — and you have to dash a metre and a half to get in through the door before the lock comes on again! Madness!

Surely they could have made a small vestibule or just put the buzzers nearer the door!

  • And did you notice the drainpipe? A Big black pipe that comes out of the building’s wall, turns again, but at 45 degrees, turns again at 45 degrees and then 90 degrees back into the building. What the hell is that all about?No doubt some strange new regulation.

[picture of ugly flats on A77]If we turn about and look north toward the city centre, the contrast with St. Ninian’s church is all the more striking. As the building that connected to the church has recently been demolished, things are not looking good for this wee church. I do hope they don’t knock it down too!

[Picture of ugly flats on Pollokshaws Rd]The church and the Tramway (and surrounding tenements) have been around for a hundred years, I wonder how long these ugly flats will survive — not long if build quality is anything to go by. Look at the rendering on the corner — the main façade that catches the sun and presents the building to the traffic — it’s got a ridiculous number of brick vent cassettes poking through the render — and these are at all sorts of depths and angles. Damned planning department and new stupid regulations. These vents spoil the whole point of a smooth render — they would have been far less noticeable in the mortar between the bricks. And what’s with the bars at the windows — one would have thought that bars would have been more likely on lower floors to prevent burglary — please don’t tell me that there is some regulation that now insists on bars for safety reasons on higher floors; that would be too much!

And, hey, no matter what the architect thought his or her block of flats would look like — people come along, move in and up go the satellite dishes! Predictable at that — but very very ugly! It would have been nice to have made some design provision for this sort of thing, from communal/ shared dishes to some roof space allocation, but the planning department of the council would not allow for any dishes, so the architect cannot take them into account.

[Picture of ugly flats on Pollokshaws Rd] [Picture of ugly flats on Pollokshaws Rd]The picture is of that stupid controlled entry and the ugly black pipe — but it also shows the detergent seeping out of the blockwork mortar as white staining. Poor build quality indeed. The picture of the right shows the low building standard — a bit shoddy and roughly done.

Oh, and can anyone explain the dropped kerb at the Bus Lane with the double yellow lines?

Yes, I am afraid that, in this case, the problems do not seem confined to the planners — the design and build seem to me to be at fault too. If the council departments are supposed to protect occupants and owners from this, then they have clearly failed here. If they exist to preserve architectural heritage, maintain the locale or make things better, then in that they have also failed. I am just amazed that they passed, that they were signed off as complete, and that they comply with all regulations and recommendations!

Of course, in the present housing shortage, these flats will be snapped up — people will make the best of what they can get (they always do), I just wonder why we have to make it so hard for them!

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Ugly New Flats

[picture of 540 Pollokshaws Rd]I HATE MOST OF THE NEW BUILDINGS I SEE.

Especially new blocks of flats (why do they all seem to be beside railway tracks?). They are ugly, impractical and ill-fitting with the locale.

Before I begin, I should say that this is not a comment on the good people who live there, this is merely one person’s opinion — and it’s not even a comment about the architects or the builders either, because I think the root of the problem is the council. I am not a fan of planning departments, building control or town planners. We created styles and beautiful places to live well before all this bureaucratic nonsense was invented just after the last world war.

The block at 540-560 Pollokshaws Road (A77) is a good example. Look at the picture to the right. The new flats I am talking about are bang in the middle of the photograph, the building to the right (we’re looking south) — is a Victorian Gothic church called St.Ninian’s. It’s a lovely old Scottish Protestant Christian Episcopalian church on the corner with Albert Drive.

[picture of inside St Ninians]

The picture from above on Google Maps shows that there was recently a building between the new flats and the St. Ninian’s, but that it has been demolished. This is a great shame as the building was in complete sympathy with St. Ninian’s architecturally — and also with The Tramway art venue that almost wraps around the church site. The Tramway venue was once the location of The National Museum of Transport before it was relocated to The Kelvin Hall. Across on Copelaw Street are Jewish Community buildings in the Scottish Baronial style, and the area in general is one of tenement flats of no more that three storeys, and more usually two.

Between Kingarth and Cuthbertson streets was once Hutcheson’s Grammer School and playing fields — but a few years ago the playing fields became a fast food haven with a McDonald’s and KFC.

  • When building these flats on Pollokshaws Road they could have chosen something to reflect the style of the church and connecting building, or perhaps the tenements a bit further south.
  • On the other hand they could have built something radical and fantastical.

Instead they managed to produce a building that offends the eye and manages to make McDonald’s look almost attractive!It’s been up for a couple of years now, and it is not wearing well. This building is getting worse over time. Of course, the whole area is being developed — they call it regeneration. It is planned, but one has to wonder what that means. It will go from being an area of commerce and industry into one of the most built-up residential areas of the city — an awful lot of people, but not a lot of amenities and services.

[picture of 540 Pollokshaws Rd]This block has the cheek to have five storeys, a penthouse and an underground car park! First of all, parking is not a problem (at present) — and second, as Google Maps shows, there are two railway tracks, plenty of train stations, it is a 10 minute walk from Bridge Street Subway (and maybe 20 minutes to the city centre) and it is on the A77 — one of the best served roads in the city for buses and taxis. In fact, this is an incredibly busy bit of road — not just because of the A77 but also because of the McDonald’s, KFC and Tramway.
[picture of 540 Pollokshaws Rd]Third — it is such a shame that the view from the Penthouse is of two railway lines, the roof of the tramway and a view of the “Drive Thru” at McDonald’s? Look at the picture to the left (click to enlarge, of course). For a start check out the ugly street light — why couldn’t this have been bracketed from the wall like they do on tenements just along the road? It is just horrible! And look how poorly the untreated timber has weathered. Look at the architectural features — the grilles for the underground car park are arranged at random, yet the windows and other features are rigidly lined up. Note the (predictable) graffiti on the plain wall. Note the traffic control arrangement — a yellow grid or box and brick ramp at the junction with Cuthbertson Street, a patch of cycle path, a parking bay either side. Yellow lines and traffic lights!

[picture of 540 Pollokshaws Rd]None of which suggested to anyone in the planning department to have a garden space, to set the flats back from the pavement, perhaps soften the lines with some trees that would also serve to clean the air and deafen the traffic noise. No, the planning department are all for maintaining “the building line” — look again at the Google Map — the site has loads of space at the back! In other words, these flats could have been built following the rail track line rather than the line of Pollokshaws Road — so the exact same building could have been built away from the road at an angle — which would have been much better to look at and far nicer to live in! My goodness, such a simple solution!

Parking on Pavements

It throws the centre of gravity out of whack, stresses the chassis, tyres, suspension and wheel alignment — so why do people choose to bump their car up onto the kerb?

The answer is to allow access for vehicles where the road is narrow.

Motorists know that larger vehicles have to be allowed access — supermarket home delivery vans, ambulances, house removal trucks, post and parcel delivery and collection vans, refuse (bin) lorries, fire engines, stretch limousines, camper vans and more besides.

On a narrow street, simply bumping up onto the kerb is enough to allow these vehicles passage without the risk of losing a costly wing mirror, having a door scratched or a wing scraped. It also allows people to open offside doors safely, and the ill effects on suspension and alignment is deemed a much lesser evil.

It is a clue that the road is poorly designed — perhaps the pavement is too wide, perhaps the road would benefit from an asymmetric arrangement, with a wide pavement on one side, and a minimum pavement on the other. Perhaps cars could be parked perpendicular to the kerb, instead of parallel to it.

Another possibility is the complete removal of pavements, perhaps with a painted line to show the pedestrian route.

What about bringing back parking in the middle of the road?  Instead of concrete islands, we could have cars — that would help alleviate future parking problems and at the same time provide traffic calming.

Nuts?

[Picture of Tesco Goats’ Cheese pack]

I dunno, maybe it has nuts. It’s hard to tell with goats and cheese these days. Good to know that the “Protective Atmosphere” does not protect against any potential nut invasion.

Estate Agent Spiel

I HATE ESTATE AGENTS.
What do they get paid for? They know nothing — and worse, they don’t have any interest in properties either. They do not seem to care about buyers, sellers or even competition. It certainly is a bizarre situation indeed!

Bad Language

When Estate Agents DO advertise they use some weird alien language (for no good reason). Years ago, when newspaper adverts cost money per column inch, per line, per word or even per letter, I could understand the need for abbreviation, but why continue to use this still in expensive printed brochures and on their own web site when there is no longer any cost implication?

  • Why do I still find “GCH” for “gas-fired central heating”, “Dbl” for “Double”, “Rm” for “room” and so forth. It really is so irritating!

When they do a write-up of your property, it is simply a waste of time. To illustrate, here’s a simple example found at random five minutes ago and pasted here with my comments on the right:

xx Estate Agents are delighted to present to the market this ground floor flat with accommodation extending to entrance hallway, spacious bay windowed lounge, dining kitchen, four double bedrooms and bathroom. The property has a door entry system and gas central heating. The property does require some internal upgrading although this has been reflected in the asking price. It doesn’t say if the flat has a garden or dry moat to the front, side or back to distance it from the street level — or whether entry is via a common close or a separate front door (or both). It doesn’t say if the flat is an elevated ground floor property, perhaps with a basement flat below. “Door Entry” is usual in all properties (no-one uses the window!), I think the agent means some form of controlled security system in installed.
Entrance hallway:
Entered via timber door. Access to all apartments. Radiator. Storage cupboard.
“Timber Door”? What kind of timber? Is it painted? Why does this room not have dimensions? Are there power points? What about lighting? Perhaps a phone point? Where are the meters? Are there glass panels above the doors, or is glass incorporated into the doors? Is the security entry phone/buzzer located in the hall? Are there porch doors? Is access from the common close corridor or from a separate door way? What features – dado, picture
rail, original cornice, skirting, flooring, décor etc? How big is the storage?
Lounge 22’4″ x 15′
Impressive sized lounge with bay window to front. Fitted carpet. Fireplace.
6800 x4570
Is the length dimension into the bay? Features are not described – is it an original fireplace? is it a working chimney and hearth? Is there a gas supply, what about skirtings, cornices and picture rails? Is there a centre light or wall lights? How many windows in the bay? Are they original sash weighted cord windows with original brass rails, roller blinds, curtains, pelmets etc.? Is the room sunny? décor? Is there a TV point, cable TV point, power points, and so forth. No radiator is
mentioned
Dining kitchen 12’2″ (3.7m) x 18’1″ (5.51m) (into recess):
Large dining kitchen fitted with a range of wall and floor standing storage units. Window to rear. Radiator. Wall mounted boiler.
3700 x5510
Is the boiler gas-fired? A Combi? Is the radiator a double panel or single panel – does it have a thermostatic radiator valve. How is the boiler operated? Thermostat? Does it provide hot water or is there a cylinder? Is there plumbing (and space) for washing machine, dish washer, waste disposal unit, sink and drainer? What about an extractor hood or venting for a tumble dryer? Is there gas? hob or cooker? What flooring? How many units? Power points? TV points? Lighting? décor? Does the sun
come in?
Bedroom one 18’1″ x 12’10”:
Master bedroom with window to front. Fitted carpet.
5510 x3910
What size – twin? double? Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing?
Bedroom two 15′ x 11’7″.
Second double bedroom with window to rear. Radiator. Small book press.
4570 x3530
Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing? No carpet?
Bedroom three 18’1″ x 9’11”:
Good sized bedroom with window to front. Radiator.
5510 x3020
What size – twin? double? Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing? Carpet?
Bedroom four 15’1″ x 12′:Double bedroom with window to rear. Fitted carpet. Radiator. 4600 x3660
Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing?
Bathroom: Fully tiled bathroom with three piece suite of wc, wash hand basin and corner bath with mixer tap shower. Timber ceiling. Linoleum flooring. Opaque window to rear. Why does this room not have dimensions? what colour of suite? Is there room for bidet? Is Timber ceiling a lowered suspended ceiling? What height? Any information on tiles?
N.B Your attention is drawn to the fact that we have been unable to confirm whether certain items included within the property are in full working order. Any prospective purchasers must accept that the property is offered for sale on this basis.
Disclaimer
xx Estate Agents make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of these details.XXX are delighted to bring to the market a seldom available property which can be sold with vacant possession.
Why not — why does the agent not know how old the heating is or when the boiler was last serviced? This is a crap disclaimer!

Admittedly, this is not the weirdest example (I have seen worse, much worse), but it serves to make the point that it is as though they did not visit the property themselves — there is almost no information upon which to base a judgement to view. There is no persuasion to potential buyers; the language is stiff and unfriendly when it should be enticing and positively attractive. A child could do better, and would charge a lot less.

Years ago I suggested that Estate Agents ought to provide a floor plan, photographs and some information about the local area’s amenities — and I was told (rather tersely) that the “trick” is to give out no more than the barest minimum information to entice buyers to view!

Something must have changed, for I see plans and pictures everywhere! However, on the descriptions and facts there remains a lot that could be done.

Haggling

In every market in the world, especially in the east, people ask how much something is. The seller says “100”, the buyer says it is too much as offers “70”, the seller says this is too low and drops the asking price to “80”, meeting the buyer halfway. the buyer accepts, and the item is sold. this is bartering — it is trade at it’s most bald and basic. Simple and beautiful, mano-a-mano, eye-to-eye bargaining.

Ticket Price

This has gained popularity in the west — in the UK and USA — the seller has the item priced, if it is “100”, then you have to pay “100”. If you do not want to pay “100” you have to wait until there is a clearance sale. The reason it has gained popularity is that it allows scanning, faster shopping and a more standardised system. Many people have grown to prefer the impersonal approach to bartering, which is deemed low-class. These shoppers seem to need to know the full ticket price so that they can feel they are getting a better deal when the item is reduced in a sale.

Auctions

Auctions work in the opposite way from haggling; an item is offered for sale, and receives an opening bid from a potential buyer — but another potential buyer offers more, and this continues until one potential buyer drops out.

The Blind /Scottish Auction

However, in Scotland, buying property is unique in that it is different from both auctions and bartering. Sometimes a house will be offered at a “Fixed Price”, in which case the first offer of this ticket price is a sale. However, the overwhelming majority of conveyancing in Scotland is “blind auction” — you’re bidding against others, but you have no idea what their bids are! It’s a bit like this: you ask how much the house is, the sellers says “offers over 100”, and you offer “200” hoping that everyone else offers less! Everyone’s bid are opened at a set time on a set date, and the highest offer is usually accepted.

This makes Scottish Estate Agents even less certain about anything than any other estate agent. They cannot provide guidance on how much over to offer, on the state of the market and so forth. They are the ones who decide what the “offers over price” will be — they make it very low to attract people to view — because a lot of viewings shows the seller (who is paying them) that they are doing something — but it is all a huge waste of everyone’s time. The details are sketchy (as illustrated above), so potential buyers really only have the price as the main guide — and yet it is useless!

On the internet, you can type in a maximum and minimum price — but it is hopeless for Scottish properties as the offers-over price is neither a minimum nor maximum! Buyers have to guess that houses in a certain area are going for 20% over, and input the estimates before thay can even get a list of properties within their real price-range that would be worth visiting!

HIPs

In the country of “England & Wales” sellers will very soon have to supply each potential buyer with a House Information Pack. This is not a bad idea, really. They have a sensible way of selling to start with — the asking price is always high and people offer below (but close). It is unfortunate that there is “Gazumping” and “Chains” — they could benefit from tightening up the missives closure. The HIP should contain a survey, but this was removed by the government at the last minute.

  • Even though an HIP might be a good idea, the implementation will be a fiasco because of the rushed time-scale.

I would suggest that in Scotland as well as England & Wales, there should be a radical change in house buying. The system we have is changing, but not fast enough to cope with the amazing surge in home-ownership in the UK since the 1960s.

Estate Agents should be made to earn their fees — they ought to deal with surveys and HIPs, and have a duty to act as agents for the seller in that they must know about the property they are selling and are able to answer routine questions about it.

  • Estate Agents should be regulated, made to work for a living, and made to provide value for money!

Litter Bugs

IT IS INCONSIDERATE TO LITTER.

But why do we do it?  And how do we stop it happening?  This is something done by people, not multi-nationals, not governments, not terrorists, just friends, neighbours and acquaintences.

Maybe people have got used to the fact that refuse collection is rubbish (excuse the pun).  The rule is now to put trash out the front — onto the pavement — for collection.  I have ranted about this, because the collection is poor and people are putting out their rubbish on the wrong days.  I just think it is ugly and a hazard to all. This is the fault of the council.

I have also ranted about recycling and why it has to be the responsibility of the council and not the individual.

If we could return to our senses, if the council collected rubbish regularly, and if the streets were clear of rubbish, then perhaps folks would try to keep the area clear and clean? Until then things will just keep getting worse!

A Growing Problem

HEDGES NARROW PAVEMENTS AND CAUSE PROBLEMS.

[Picture of Another Overgrown Hedge Narrowing Pavement in Shawlands]Using pavements in Shawlands is hard enough with all the dog mess (see my rant on this), but it has to be said that the next biggest hazard is overgrown or untended hedges!

[Picture of Overgrown Hedge Narrowing Pavement in Shawlands]Bulging hedges reduce the effective width of any pavement down to almost nothing, and brushing past a wet hedge is never a pleasant experience.

I feel sorry for all the small children and parents at Langside Primary School, for that is a busy junction with Millwood Street, and the hedges on both sides of this street are usually very overgrown indeed, right the way along Tantallon road in both directions.

Mind you, it could be worse were it not for Shawlands’ wide pavements — indeed it is probably worse in other areas, particularly Strathbungo, where things are more cramped.

Strathbungo

[Picture of small pavement in Strathbungo] [Picture of narrow Strathbungo Roads] [Picture of Hedge problem in Strathbungo] [Picture of Hedge problem in Strathbungo]

The problem with Strathbungo is that the pavement has an unusably small width to begin with. The roads are very narrow too — just enough room for a single car going one way! If hedges get out of control (and they do), then people have no choice but to resort to walking in the middle of the road!

[Picture of people walking in road] [Picture of people walking in road]

  • How do we solve this problem? — after all it is an inconsiderate neighbour, a bad resident and a selfish and inconsiderate person that is causing the problem… not a local authority or faceless corporation!

[Picture of bushy hedge in Shawlands]Whether it be Drumchapel, Yoker, or parts of the West End — indeed anywhere where the pavement is narrow, it is such a shame to see mums having to push buggies and prams through the overgrowth, or worse, moving away and onto the road to avoid them.

If we could raise awareness of this situation, then one day maybe hedge-owners would be more considerate towards the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, kids on trikes, and mums with prams who have to use the pavement and would simply like to use as much of it as possible!

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