Some observers regard the proposed reshuffling of Paolozzi’s ‘Manuscript of Monte Cassino’ as an ill-conceived guddle: a half-baked compromise in the Picardy Place re-design. 

Disruption of the carefully sited pieces – carefully sited in relation to each other and to their surroundings – is highly undesirable in general (Issue 266, p.2). The possible stranding of the hand on the far side of Little King Street outside John Lewis is obnoxious in particular. 

But the situation could get even worse.

The multinational advertising giant JCDecaux – which in the last two years has unsuccessfully applied to introduce digital adverts along George Street and St Andrew Square – is now seeking permission for a similar bus shelter-mounted double-sided digital display at the foot of Leith Street … within winking and flashing distance of where the Paolozzi hand may potentially be repositioned (Ref. 17/05303/ADV). 

In fairness, JCDecaux may have no idea about the proposed new site for the upturned palm. However, if granted consent, their purposely eye-catching installation (‘Brightness up to 2500Cdm2) would inevitably further distract from the adjacent sculptural ‘rumination on faith, the religious life, learning, war, origins and belonging’.

If realised, such an insensitive juxtaposition of form, function and message would be appalling.

But the muddle extends further. Spurtle understands that even the position of the bus-layby has not yet been finally decided.

So what can be done?

When assessing a situation like this, Planning officers would normally judge the proposal’s impact on local amenity, including items of cultural interest.

But since the repositioning of the upturned palm and the layout of the layby are at this stage still matters for discussion, they cannot be considered. It flies in the face of joined-up thinking, but that's the way it is.

So, perhaps the best solution now is to email the Council HERE (by Thursday 14 December) and request:

  1. That the application for a digital displayp-panel be withdrawn until a final design for Picardy Place/Leith Street is confirmed.
  2. Recommend that consent for the application, if granted, should carry a time condition limited to 2–3 years.

At that later stage, objections on grounds of amenity could be made to any renewal of the display-panel permission if necessary. 

If you live in the City Centre ward, we also suggest you alert Councillors Doran, Miller, Mowat and Rankin to the problem. 

Remember, this issue is connected to but different from the wider issues surrounding Picardy Place. Responses to the Council's consultation on that should be made by Friday 15 December HERE.


Picardy Place