Canonmills 18th Century cottage to be demolished

The building facing demolition. Picture: Neil Hanna
The building facing demolition. Picture: Neil Hanna
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RESIDENTS are pleading with council chiefs to think again about plans to bulldoze an 18th Century stone cottage at Canonmills, which is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the area.

Councillors have already given the go-ahead for demolition of the cottage in Warriston Road, and the erection of a three-storey block of flats.

But there were around 70 objections to the proposal and residents say they were not given the chance to put their case against the plans.

Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born nearby, once wrote about exploring “such corners as Canonmills” and his joy at coming across rustic cottages.

The cottage is close to the Earthy restaurant which also faces being demolished and replaced by another block of flats despite a vigorous community campaign to save it. Councillors had refused permission for demolition, but the decision was overturned on appeal.

SEE ALSO: Earthy restaurant in Canonmills faces demolition

Residents argue demolition of the “characterful” cottage would mean the loss of another piece of Edinburgh’s history and would diminish the quality of the local environment.

The council’s own report said: “The cottage is a building type once common but almost lost within central Edinburgh as a result of the Georgian and Victorian growth of the city.

“Its local significance is strengthened further by it being one of the oldest surviving buildings within the local area and significantly which represents its former past.”

However, the report went on to recommend the demolition should be approved.

Robin Thomson, acting chair of the Boat Green Residents Association, said: “People are horrified it’s come to this.

“After the Water of Leith flood defences and the disruption to the area, we’re just about to have Earthy destroyed and flats built there, and now they want to knock down this cottage and build something on a piece of land the size of a postage stamp. We’re just scunnered.”

The residents claim they were not told of the date of the meeting which approved 
demolition of the cottage because guidelines requiring such notification had been changed just four days 
earlier.

Planning convener Councillor Ian Perry said any representations made were always considered by the committee as part of the usual planning process.

“This application was granted because it complied with the local development plan and was found by members of the development management sub-committee to be acceptable in terms of size and design.”

Stevenson’s ‘Impression of antiquity’

Robert Louis Stevenson reminisced in Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes in 1879 about “a point of romance” when he came across “rustic cottages”.

“And there are other sights and exploits which crowd back upon my mind under a very strong illumination of remembered pleasure. But the effect of not one of them all will compare with the discoverer’s joy, and the sense of old Time and his slow changes on the face of this earth, with which I explored such corners as Canonmills or Water Lane, or the nugget of cottages at Broughton Market.

“They were more rural than the open country, and gave a greater impression of antiquity than the oldest land upon the High Street.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com