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Discovery Heights: Why I can’t help feeling big love for the pie-in-the-skyscraper

The reaction to Dundee’s new waterfront skyscraper was nothing if not predictable.

InverTay Homes knew exactly what they were doing when they released images of Discovery Heights, a 39-storey behemoth they packaged as a bedfellow to the V&A within the central waterfront.

Once the touch paper was lit, all InverTay had to do was step back and watch the naysayers and progressives line up to have their tuppence worth.

If you go by the rule that it is better to be talked about than not, then Invertay are quids in on the PR-front.

And fair play to them for that.


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But, let’s get down to brass tacks, Discovery Heights in that form is nothing more than a pipe dream.

I am not suggesting it is a proposal without merit – for example, Dundee does need modern conference facilities and I’m sure there would be an appetite for people to stay close to the V&A both permanently and temporarily.

Council leader says Dundee skyscraper plans are ‘fantasy’

But Discovery Heights is a proposal without a location – site 12 is already earmarked for a different waterfront project – it is a proposal without planning permission, it is a proposal without real costings or an investment package and it is a proposal without any sort of attached timetable.

In short, it isn’t happening and if I’m wrong about that I’ll happily (very unhappily) ditch the lift and abseil from the skybar to the ground 140m below.

But what I do applaud here is InverTay’s ambition.

As a city we need to think big and embrace new concepts.

After all, why should exciting developments happen elsewhere?

VIDEO: Dundee developers reach for the stars with plan for city skyscraper

Of course, any proposal that hopes to find a home in our city or region must be exposed to serious rigour.

But we shouldn’t stand in the way of new and intriguing concepts just for the bloody-minded sake of it.

The V&A – which has given Dundee the platform, confidence and credibility to look beyond the shrunken horizons of the post-industrial era – is testament to that very point.

And if Dundee is really to become the modern and progressive economy we all imagine it to be then it may, at times, have to embrace different.

Perhaps even outlandish.

That’s why I don’t subscribe to the narrative of simply laughing Discovery Heights out of town.

It may not stack up, but it is unique and it has got people talking about the this city – and its ambitions – anew.

That’s a good thing.

And, in my eyes, enough for the pie-in-the-skyscraper to win a place in my affections.

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