l Dear Editor,
l I HAVE just returned to Soller after the Christmas break in England and was relieved to see the fine old military building on the quay still standing. I was also interested to read letters from Barry Emmott and Alan Stewart in back copies of the Bulletin in reply to mine dated 17th December 2005 both correspondents make valid and different comments about the redevelopment of the Port. As Chief Architect of a large international property company in Britain for over thirty-five years, I frequently had to argue against local NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists at Planning Enquiries. Change is inevitable, but it must be managed to give maximum benefit for the community. Many of the changes proposed for the Port of Soller are both brave and forward-looking. I only disagree with Alan Stewart and the Local Council over the contentious issue of the old naval barracks. I had a great deal of experience dealing with the conversion of Victorian buildings as part of urban renewal projects in the UK. Tearing them down is rarely an aesthetic or financial option - their very presence often justifies the whole development. Loft apartments in abandoned warehouses are almost a cliché nowadays, but unlikely buildings such as asylums, railway stations and churches can also be given new life. People want to have modern facilities, but are also desperate to retain a sense of history. I have not had the opportunity to inspect the building internally, although Mr Emmott says that it appears to be sound enough structurally. Any competent architect, given a summary of the accommodation required, could easily adapt and extend it, with additional pavilions on the enlarged quay, to become the jewel in the crown of the new marina. This is really the safe, economic solution. I could be totally wrong, of course. A brilliant architect could design a brand-new iconic building for the site - a Sydney Opera House for the Port of Soller.
And pigs might fly.
The threat of the wrecking ball must be stayed until the veil of secrecy is lifted and full details of the proposed development on the quay are published. There is still hope as long as the building stands. There must be at least one sane voice on the Local Council who will speak out against the demands of crass commercialism.
J Finlay Walls RIBA AA Dipl., Puerto Soller