Analysis of the Listed Building Consent application at Craighouse

[NOTE  Anyone looking for HOW TO OBJECT to the newbuild click here and it will tell you how to object. The reference for the application is 12/04007/FUL and the deadline is 21st DEC. This article is discussing the separate but related Listed Building Consent application  ( ref: 12/04007/LBC). To object to the Listed Buildings modifications specifically,  go to the planning portal in the same way but use the LBC reference – the deadline for this is Friday which is the 14th Dec.]

tunnel skylights:

Skylights for the tunnel proposed to be filled in. These tunnels were designed so that servants could move between the buildings beneath the ground.

The application for new build at Craighouse is so shocking that many people will not have spotted much of the detail of the application for Listed Building Consent. The deadline for objections or comments to the Listed Building Consent is Friday, so if you want to comment, you have very little time to do so. Unlike the main application, it seems unlikely there will be an extension to the time period for objections or comments to the LBC application.

A proposal like this to make significant modifications to a group of Grade A listed buildings would normally get a lot of attention, but when there is also such a massive and highly controversial planning application at the same time, it is hard for people to really give the LBC application the attention it deserves.

The structures either side of this road are the boiler houses which are proposed to be demolished, despite being Grade A listed and habitat of protected wildlife within a Local Biodiversity Site

The structures either side of this road are the boiler houses which are proposed to be demolished, despite being Grade A listed and habitat of protected wildlife within a Local Biodiversity Site

Clearly the buildings need to be adapted to a new use. The question is whether these proposals should be given more thought, given that they are partnered with a planning application that has come up with such massive opposition, and which the planning department are already so critical of.

As a reference, I am looking at the original Simpson & Brown Conservation Audit which was commissioned by Napier University before they sold the site. Simpson & Brown are conservation architects with a great deal of respect and experience. Unfortunately, a modified version of

A view inside one of the tunnels proposed to be filled in

A view inside one of the tunnels proposed to be filled in

this document was submitted as part of the recent planning application by Mountgrange and Napier and the council planners have issued a brief but highly critical comment on the state of this modified document. I will therefore stick to the original, unmodified version.

All structures on the site are covered by the Grade A listing if they were built before 1945. There are some demolitions proposed to some of these Grade A listed structures. There are also quite a few alterations proposed to the listed buildings.

Here is a summary:

Aerial view of the boiler houses proposed to be demolished. Click to see full detail

Aerial view of the boiler houses proposed to be demolished. Click to see full detail

  1. The boiler houses are proposed to be demolished, despite being a habitat for bats and a significant original feature (The Simpson & Brown Conservation Audit rates them as of “considerable significance”, the same rating they use for Old Craig and the Lodge).
  2. The tunnels are proposed to be filled in. The tunnels connect New Craig to the other buildings. They were originally built to enable staff to walk between the buildings without going outside, but still allowing the buildings to appear separate. It was a highly unusual approach. The Simpson & Brown Audit rates them as of “moderate significance“.
  3. The extension to East Craig is to be demolished. It is unlikely to be missed.
  4. The extremely grand great hall in New Craig will be open to private residents, but will lose its use for events such as weddings. It will be a communal area for the apartments. Some of the fire guards are proposed to be removed and replaced with an alternative fire prevention approach, which will improve its appearance, but is subject to approval by fire safety officers.
  5. A series of roof balconies will be added.

    Windows to be added to roof of New Craig

    Windows to be added to roof of New Craig

  6. Windows will be added to the roofs of New Craig to enable bedrooms and bathrooms to be put in the attic areas.
  7. New doorways will be added around New Craig to enable individual apartments to have the own private access. This involves lowering the ground level in some cases.
  8. The disabled access ramps will be removed or changed in some cases.
  9. The electrical substation next to East Craig will be moved elsewhere on the site.

    Proposed extensions for South Craig

    Proposed extensions for South Craig

  10. There will be small extensions to South Craig and Bevan, including 1 quite visible extension to South Craig.
  11. A number of internal doorways and archways inside New Craig will be filled in to form separate apartments.
  12. Some of the existing very large, grand rooms will be turned into combined kitchen/dining/living areas for apartments.

    Proposed extension to Bevan

    Proposed extension to Bevan

In summary: the Listed Building Consent application is a mixed set of proposals. Some would be clearly welcome, such as the demolition of some insensitive additions. Some are modifications to a new use which would neither improve nor harm the character or beauty of the site. But some are definitely a loss.

The demolition of the boiler houses is a loss of an interesting Grade A listed structure. Although one part of the boiler houses in no longer in use and has suffered from poor maintenance, it could actually be quite a beautiful and interesting building if a new use could be found. It is also a building that helps support bats on the site. The demolition is only proposed to enable some new buildings to be put in the area which are unpopular, insensitive, and likely to cause an unacceptable impact on more than 1 species of protected wildlife in the area. If protected wildlife isn’t safe in a Local Biodiversity Site, what is the point of such designations?

The loss of the tunnels would be a great shame given their importance in understanding the history of the site. They are an unusual and interesting feature. Although it might be hard to find a use for them as part of a residential development, it would be better to protect them in some way if possible.

Despite the massive, inappropriate, inaccurate and incomplete planning application for Craighouse, I think that the Listed Building Consent application should get the scrutiny it deserves. Unfortunately, the deadline for comments is Friday.

To comment on the Listed Building Consent application (which only covers modifications to the listed buildings, and not to building in the grounds) you should comment on planning application 12/04007/LBC. Comments on this application are kept separate from comments on the full planning application.

A view of the boiler houses today

A view of the boiler houses today

Material objections to this listed building consent can cover issues of appearance, as we understand it. The buildings are Grade A listed, and so maintaining the character, historical integrity and quality of the buildings is material. Also, the application would have a highly material impact on wildlife (of which not all information has been released publicly) and so wildlife impact ought to be seriously considered with this application.

There is also a separate “Conservation Area Consent” application. This is for demolition of the Learning Resource Centre (the new building on the top corner of the open space). This application is only for that demolition. The deadline for comments on this is also Friday.

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5 Responses to Analysis of the Listed Building Consent application at Craighouse

  1. rosyb says:

    The tunnels are a fascinating piece of social history – I have been researching them recently and they are a romantic and fun feature that kids like to talk about. It would be a shame to lose them altogether. I did not realise there was extensions being put on the listed buildings. And I would ask – if all the information has not been released on wildlife impact and the LBC has bearing on this – surely there should be a time extension to take in the extra information?

  2. rosyb says:

    It is also very unclear from those pictures what those extensions would actually look like

  3. Allan Jones says:

    If the same architectural approach is used as for the proposed new build, expect square concrete and glass boxes.

  4. julietwilson says:

    unfortunately the link didn’t work for me.

  5. andrew0r says:

    Sorry Juliet. That was an embarrassing mistake for someone who works with computers. This link should work and I will edit the post: https://citydev-portal.edinburgh.gov.uk/idoxpa-web/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=MDFBD1EW0GY00

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