Government rejects appeal over bid to demolish gasholder

The structure has dominated the local landscape for more than a century
The structure has dominated the local landscape for more than a century
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FOR more than a century the 140ft structure has served as one of the city’s most striking landmarks — and it looks like it is here to stay.

A new bid to demolish the Granton gasholder — one of the last remnants of the old gasworks site — has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

National Grid appealed a decision by the city council – which wants to save the B-listed structure – and the government has now said it should stay.

Dannie Onn, a reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers to rule on the case, said: “With wit and imagination a restored structure might frame or support a variety of leisure or commercial applications.”

Community representatives hope National Grid will come up with ambitious plans to use the iconic steel structure as part of its development of the site.

But National Grid can submit new plans for demolition within six months — giving it another opportunity to convince locals that knocking it down and developing the land will be more beneficial to the area.

The firm has warned that retaining the landmark will put at risk the wider development of the 110-acre Forthquarter site.

But Ms Onn added: “The gasholder has an elegance consistent with the refined design of the nearby Scottish Gas office building and the general high quality of the Forthquarter development.

“The appellant discounts re-use partly because it has not been done on this scale before or with a mild steel structure. However, lack of a precedent is no bar to imagination, and a restoring purchaser has not been given the opportunity to rise to the challenge.”

Full plans have never been produced for what might replace a demolished gasholder, because surveyors cannot assess ground conditions before “decontamination” of the site takes place.

National Grid has found it would cost £5.2 million to refurbish the structure – as well as £200,000 a year to paint. Demolition and decontaminating the land will cost £2.5m.

In a statement, the firm said: “National Grid is extremely disappointed with this decision. We will now meet with the project team to review what options are available before making any decisions.”

Ann Confrey, a spokeswoman for National Grid’s Forthquarter development, said: “Being forced to retain the gasholder will have a significant impact on budgets and the deliverability of the Forthquarter vision.”

Forth ward councillor Cammy Day, added: “I am pleased the [government] reporter has upheld the decision. The only option National Grid gave was demolition and I thought there could have been more engagement locally.”

Yet Frances Durie, chairwoman of West Pilton and West Granton Community Council, described the decision as “silly”. She said: “I think it’s a silly decision and I don’t think the council would be so keen to keep it if it was paying to keep it.

“I think something better could be done.

“Who would want to buy land beside it? If there was lots of money around maybe someone could develop it into something, but there’s no money.”