Edinburgh gin shop House of Boë in South Queensferry challenges council to keep colourful shop front
An Edinburgh gin shop has launched a petition to keep its shop front purple after the City of Edinburgh Council ordered the business to be repainted “dull grey”.
The House of Boë, located on the High Street in South Queensferry, was painted purple in August this year as part of renovation works costing £200,000. But, following an anonymous complaint in the summer and an order from the council in September to restore the premises to its former grey colour, the gin shop owners are now challenging the council’s decision after they were told they had breached regulations by painting a listed building.
Boë Gin director Andrew Richardson, who is appealing the council’s decision, has launched an online petition for the shop to retain its colourful bold colour that he says enhances the street. Launched this week, the petition has already received a generous amount of support, generating 100 signatures within the first 30 minutes and reaching more than 1,300 signatures within 24 hours.
Mr Richardson said: “It’s tremendous it really is, because it’s local people in South Queensferry supporting us and also giving an indication of things they want to see on the High Street.” South Queensferry’s High Street is known for its brightly coloured houses and businesses and the council’s decision for the shop to return to its original grey colour has left Mr Richardson perplexed.
He said: “It is a colourful place and if everything was a dull grey it would be less attractive for visitors and local people so I think this petition shows that it’s a vote for us and also for keeping the High Street a bright and cheery place.”
Mr Richardson explained that it was in fact the local community who inspired him to start the petition after they read reports of the council’s decision last week. He said: “People spontaneously came into our shop after the news broke and said ‘this is ridiculous, we would be willing to sign a petition if you want’, and we thought why not! So we have put a petition together and it’s getting a lot of support.”
Mr Richardson said he received an enforcement letter from the council informing him he had breached regulations and was also told “there is no point in sending in a retrospective application because it is very unlikely it will be successful.” The 59-year-old, who is one of three directors at the company, said they are appealing the council’s decision after they were told the building must be repainted by January 10 next year.
Several people have posted comments of support on the petition website which sets out to generate 2,000 signatures. One said: “Another ridiculous waste of time when the shop blends in with other shops in colourful South Queensferry.” Another added: “People have worked hard to make this building something special, ridiculous decision by the council.”
The House of Boë director said, after getting the lease for the shop two years ago, they have undertaken significant renovation works to rejuvenate the derelict building. He said: “It was in very poor condition. The ceilings were down, the floors were up and toilets had been smashed. It was a real mess inside and out since we took it on and we have spent a lot of money to renovate it and make it into a workable environment again.”
“We wanted to do something in keeping with the rest of the high street and enhance it because the outside of our shop looked very rundown and tired.”
A Council spokesperson said: “It is an offence to paint a listed building in a conservation area without the appropriate consent. In this instance we have taken action because of the harm to the building and the conservation area. While the owner may disagree with this decision, the appropriate route to challenge the decision is to appeal the notice to Scottish Ministers.”