Scottish Parliament extension ‘looks like prison’

Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow
Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow
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PLANS to build a box-shaped stainless steel extension at the Scottish Parliament will make the £414 million landmark “look like Barlinnie prison”, an MSP has warned.

Holyrood bosses have unveiled proposals for a gatehouse service lodge extension which will jut out as an overhang from the side of the building.

As well as a stainless steel access stair and glazed balustrade, the new facilities will include a modified entrance route for cyclists.

Estimated cost details have yet to be confirmed, parliament officials said.

Cameron Buchanan, Conservative MSP for Lothian, today criticised the proposals and said there was a serious risk that the parliament’s aesthetic impact could be damaged.

He said: “I think this will make [that part of] the parliament look even more like Barlinnie and we have to be careful of that.”

And he called on Holyrood chiefs to be far more up-front about ongoing alterations to the structure.

“These things are kept rather under wraps,” he added. “I think [the parliament] should be more open about this type of project.”

It has also emerged that proposed designs have been submitted by Lee Boyd architects, the same firm involved in a controversial £6.5m security extension which was put up in front of the building.

That project sparked considerable controversy, with Benedetta Tagliabue – widow of Holyrood architect Enric Miralles – warning of a negative effect.

“I’m sure it’s going to ruin the feeling you can enter the parliament easily,” she told the Evening News.

“Instead of having a shadow and a pergola to indicate easy access at the bottom level, you will have a walk along a corridor, which is ridiculous.”

The Scottish Parliament has been dogged by controversy since plans for its construction were first announced.

Scheduled to open in 2001, the building eventually did so in 2004, more than three years late and with a final cost of £414m – many times higher than initial estimates of between £10m and £40m.

Leaders of heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association said they were relaxed about plans for an additional extension at the parliament.

However, director Marion Williams said they would be put to the association’s board for further discussion.

Holyrood officials stressed there was no guarantee that the proposed work would go ahead.

A spokesman said: “The planning application is for potential modifications to the service yard. The application should not be interpreted to mean that the changes will proceed.”

He added: “The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body has not yet made any decision beyond obtaining necessary planning permission.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com