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Scottish heritage fears as mill faces wrecking ball

Concerns have emerged from within the conservation community over the listing system in Scotland.

Both the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and SAVE Britain's Heritage have called for reform of the listing system north of the border following an incident in which consent for the demolition of a 19th-century mill in Galashiels was granted.

These warnings are based on the behaviour of the Scottish Borders Council, which claimed it was not prepared to put the mill forward for listing in case Historic Scotland turned it down.

Council officers believed that this would open the council to legal action from the developer for delaying the construction of the proposals which would lead to the destruction of Waverley Mills.

If this attitude were to be repeated throughout the country, it could lead to widespread demolition of historic buildings.

Waverley Mills is a fairly rare example of early 19th-century industrial architecture in the Borders region.

SAVE boss Marcus Binney claimed that the planning system in Scotland is in need of reform if such buildings are to be retained.

He pointed to the fact that the council itself had commissioned a report that concluded the mill should be saved but had refused to act for fear of legal action.

'These buildings are a very important part of the region's industrial and architectural history. Policy in Scotland needs to be changed so that buildings can be saved at this crucial point in the planning process.' Binney said.

And Audrey Dakin, co-director of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, agreed.

'The complex at Nether Mill in Galashiels dates from 1804-5, with buildings heightened later in the 19th-century and spinning mill, weaving sheds, engine and boiler houses being added from the 1860s,' she said.

'Taken as a whole, the complex is of great interest and merits retention and an appropriate re-use.'

by Ed Dorrell

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