New Town pink door: Nosy neighbour who complained was probably puce with rage, very much in keeping with neighbourhood – Vladimir McTavish

This week, one of Edinburgh’s longest-running and most farcical stories reached its conclusion.
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Under the threat of a £20,000 fine, a New Town resident finally backed down and changed the colour of their pink front door. The woman in question, Miranda Dickson, was ordered to change the colour last year after an anonymous complaint to Edinburgh Council.

Two things strike me as ridiculous here. Firstly, that the council should be issuing such orders on the basis of anonymous complaints. Surely, if someone objects so strongly about the look of someone else’s front door, they should have the guts to do so visibly. Secondly, who cares so much about someone else’s home decor that they write to the council to moan about it?

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The local authority ruled that the pink door was not "in keeping with the historic character" of the listed building in the New Town. Ms Dickson has since painted the door a very vivid shade of green after failing to overturn the enforcement notice. Having seen pictures of the new door colour, I must admit it doesn’t look any more “in keeping with the historic character” than the previous hue.

I don’t know whether it’s the city council or Unesco who issues these guidelines. Either way, they are totally ridiculous. In what kind of city does the poor woman face a potential £20,000 fine solely because of her taste in colours? I use the term “poor woman” loosely. She used to be a global brand director for a drinks company, and she inherited a house in the New Town, so she is obviously not short of a few quid. But seriously, a twenty-grand fine for a pink front door?

All kinds of worse crimes against aesthetics are carried out on a daily basis in the New Town. There are several regular drinkers in the Cumberland Bar who wear sports jackets and pink trousers. That is surely much more deserving of a financial penalty, or at the very least several hours of community service. Also, some guy used to park a hideous orange Maserati in Drummond Place and, to the best of my knowledge, never received threatening letters from the council about that particular eye sore.

And as for the “historic character” of the neighbourhood, how come a sauna and massage parlour is allowed to operate in London Street? Are we to believe that was the “historic” use of the premises? Come to think of it, perhaps it was.

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The thing I find most entertaining about the whole story is that it took nine months for Ms Dickson to actually receive the enforcement notice. I wonder if some irate nosy neighbour spent as long as nine months seething, getting ever-more hot under the collar and muttering under their breath before actually penning a letter of complaint. I’m imagining their complexion has turned puce since then, which would be very much in keeping with the character of the New Town.

Miranda Dickson was threatened with a £20,000 fine (Picture: Courtesy of Miranda Dickson/SWNS)Miranda Dickson was threatened with a £20,000 fine (Picture: Courtesy of Miranda Dickson/SWNS)
Miranda Dickson was threatened with a £20,000 fine (Picture: Courtesy of Miranda Dickson/SWNS)

Edinburgh is sadly home to a significant number of people who will complain about anything new. I wonder if, in the 18th century, after the Nor’ Loch was drained to form Princes Street Gardens, there were complaints about the park not being ”in keeping with the historic character” of the previous open sewer.