Feb 8 2013 By Jackie Grant, Dumfries Standard Friday
A campaign to save three derelict buildings from demolition has ended in defeat.
The Dumfries Historic Buildings Trust hoped the properties in Friars Vennel would be given a last-minute reprieve after Historic Scotland put a stay on ratifying the decision to knock them down.
Trust members were left angered when councillors voted 13-2 in favour of plans to demolish the buildings that have lain empty for 15 years.
The social landlord, DGHP, wants to flatten them to make way for two ground-floor shops and six flats.
But after having considered the case, Historic Scotland said this week they have “decided to clear the case back to Dumfries and Galloway Council for their own decision”.
In a statement to DHBT, it said: “We agree with your view that their loss to the area will be regrettable. We also very much welcome the efforts that the Loreburn Community Council, Dumfries Historic Buildings Trust and other local bodies and individuals have made to seek the retention and reuse of these buildings.
“We agree that it is likely that the buildings could theoretically be saved but the cost and practicalities of repair need to be balanced against the merit of the buildings and the benefits of their retention.
“The merit of these buildings is very modest, and while it is possible that more of the existing fabric could be saved, they have been heavily altered in the 20th century and the proportion of historic fabric that survives which could be salvaged is, in our view, low.
“Having weighed up the condition and significance of the buildings, our view is that the council’s conclusion to allow demolition is reasonable, and there are clear benefits to regenerating the site sooner rather than later.”
Luke Moloney, chairman of DHBT, described the decision as “very sad”.
“These are some of the oldest buildings in the town and it was just so clear they should be conserved,” he said.
“DHBT offered to repair these buildings and bring them back into use and I really don’t understand Historic Scotland’s decision as it goes against all their guidelines.
“We tried our best and had huge support but I think this is the end of the road.
“I’m very disappointed.”
However, councillor Andrew Wood said the decision would “delight the businesses and residents within Friars Vennel” as demolition of the buildings would enhance the town.
“Loreburn should be applauded for their excellent work on St Mary’s street and now DGHP has an opportunity in further enhancing the dilapidated areas which are at present a disservice to the vibrant image this town requires.
“I would hope that any aspiring architect will acknowledge that while it is good to retain some elements of past buildings and their design, it would be really good to see our talented architects design a cultural building of 21st century design, technology and lasting quality, as there is no such building in the whole of our region, nothing for future generations to admire and be inspired by the skill of our present architects.”