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Scottish legal ruling poses threat to building heritage

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A Glasgow house occupied and altered by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson faces demolition this month after a landmark legal ruling which threatens the conservation of listed buildings.

A Scottish judge last week threw out attempts by the Scottish Executive to hold a public inquiry into whether to demolish the listed building at 105-107 West Regent Street and build a new five-storey office block.The development already has planning consent from Glasgow City Council but after conservation bodies brought the case to the attention of the Scottish Executive it launched a public inquiry. Now the judge has put a question mark over the system by ruling that the inquiry would not be impartial or independent because its reporter had been appointed by the executive.He concluded that it would be against the human rights of the property developer, County Properties, as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.The building is now set for demolition at the beginning of September, unless an appeal is successful.

'This ruling seems to deny the right of the nation to protect its built heritage, ' said Gavin Stamp, chairman of the Alexander Thomson Society. 'Unless an appeal is made, this could affect all listed buildings and, in the worst case, anything which needs a public inquiry.'

The ruling may have a knock-on effect for conservationists in England, where the human rights convention is due to be adopted in law later this year. Sources with English Heritage's legal department said it is assessing the implications for its policy on conserving listed buildings if local authorities have already granted consent to demolish.

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