Car showroom plan signals the changing face of Dundee’s Technology Park

It was designed to be “a centre of excellence for Dundee”.

But business chiefs said that the face of the city’s Technology Park is changing — after plans emerged to transform part of the site into a car showroom.

An application has been lodged with the council to convert two units at Riverside House in Luna Place.

The park, near Invergowrie, on the city’s western edge, was developed in the 1980s, when the computer revolution had begun to take hold of the world. By 1985, the first buildings were occupied.

Construction under way in 1988.

However, with several office spaces having lain empty for years — and this latest move to introduce a new industry to the park — many feel that it will have to adapt in the future to thrive.

Caroline Thoms, office manager of Vascular Flow Technologies, which researches and develops vascular devices, believes “retail is probably the next step”.

She added: “The park has been moving away from being a technology park for quite some time.

“For a car showroom to come here, maybe we wouldn’t have previously expected it, but it doesn’t really come as a surprise. There are already so many types of businesses here.”

Clive Gordon, technical director of architects firm Halliday, Fraser, Munro, which has been based at the park for 10 years, said: “I think owners maybe wanted to keep it as a technology park but you have a range of businesses and I think that’s the way it has to be.

“I don’t think you can pigeon hole like that and say ‘we want technology firms’. Landlords can’t afford to in this day and age.

Invergowrie Primary pupils help plant a time capsule in 1986

“There was one of the bigger units looked at, and there was a hotel firm interested. We were amazed they were turned down by planners. If it’s bringing businesses in it’s a good thing, far better than a disused unit.”

Steve Smith, business development manager for IT support firm Shackelton’s, said the park’s original intended use hadn’t played out.

He said: “It was built as a technology park but if I came here and didn’t know it was called that I would just think it was a retail park or industrial estate.

“I don’t think it ever really was a technology park, when you look at the businesses that have been here. I think planners hoped it would be. It’s good to hear units are being filled.”

Adam Hutchison, director of Westport Property, which specialises in commercial property letting in Tayside, said the “ripple effect” from the Waterfront had changed the demand for properties in Dundee.

He added: “It’s encouraging to see property developers and the council reacting to the demand of the industry.

Construction on another Technology Park building in 1991.

“We are seeing buildings like this that have been empty for a period of time being brought back into use, which is great.”

Dundee’s Lord Provost Ian Borthwick was 22 years into his council career when the first firms moved in.

He said: “It was constructed to be a significant investment for the city, for the technology and research industries. As a development it was to keep Dundee at the forefront of those technologies. I think the council was right to push for that to go ahead.

“It’s been extremely useful for the city, and well-used over the years. It was seen as a centre of excellence for the computer industries.”

The developers behind the car showroom plans couldn’t be reached for comment.