A CRUMBLING 18th century mansion of “international significance” could be saved under plans to take over its ownership.
Midlothian Council has agreed in principle to use its statutory power of compulsory purchase to acquire legal title to Mavisbank House – a grade A-listed “architectural gem” located near Bonnyrigg.
But the order will only be pursued if The Mavisbank Preservation Trust is able to raise enough money – an estimated £12 million – for its restoration.
The Trust would reimburse the council’s costs and take full responsibility for all future renovation and restoration work.
Mavisbank House is currently privately owned, although the identify and whereabouts of the owners is unclear.
The house previously featured in the BBC series Restoration, as campaigners tried to get funds to repair the crumbling building, and in 2008 they were given a £2m grant from the Scottish Government.
Trustee Chris Lewis said: “Our aim is to completely restore the building at a cost of between £10 and £12m. Previous attempts to renovate the building have been blocked by the fact that the building was in thus unknown ownership.
“If we are very lucky we might be able to get started in 2012.
“But it’s a chicken and egg situation because until the funding is in place, we won’t be able to take ownership. Mavisbank is a building of national and international significance.”
Designed by renowned architect William Adam, it was built between 1723 and 1736 and has been cited as one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Scotland.
Mr Lewis said a previous owner had left Mavisbank to three beneficiaries in his will but it now seems “highly possible” the trio do not actually exist.
If the council pursued a CPO and no-one came forward as owner within a certain time limit, ownership would be transferred without charge. Midlothian councillor Russell Imrie said: “The architectural beauty, history and significance of this building make it worth fighting for.”