Edinburgh short-term lets: Consent refused for historic Holyrood park lodges owned by Scottish Ministers

One of the listed properties has already been let out for nearly three years.
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‘Royal’ lodges in Edinburgh owned by Scottish Ministers have been refused consent to operate as short-term lets, after one was used by tourists and visitors for nearly three years.

Bosses at Historic Environment Scotland applied for retrospective planning permission to operate Meadowbank and Duddingston lodges as short-term lets. But the bid was rejected on grounds that they represented a loss of residential property ‘not outweighed by economic benefits’.

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Historic Environment Scotland, which manages the park on behalf of Scottish Ministers, said it is ‘disappointed’ and is now reviewing next steps, which could involve appealing the decision. It's claimed that the listed lodges had been sitting empty for five years before they were refurbished and let out from August 2020. Historic Environment Scotland said leasing them would bring in much-needed income to fund the public body.

The listed lodge was part of Prince Albert’s 19th Century landscaping plansThe listed lodge was part of Prince Albert’s 19th Century landscaping plans
The listed lodge was part of Prince Albert’s 19th Century landscaping plans

The lodges were previously used by Holyrood Palace staff and latterly by staff of Historic Environment Scotland. Following the refusal of planning consent on August 16, the listing for the Meadowbank lodge has been taken down. The detached, two-bedroom lodge still appears as a let on the Historic Environment Scotland website but the link through to the listing on Rettie has been deactivated. The other properties have not been let to date, Historic Environment Scotland said.

A public tender document revealed the organisation paid an agency £9,000-a-year to manage and market the lodges to holidaymakers. Planning permission was sought in June 2023 for change of use for the properties. Bosses at Historic Environment Scotland told the Evening News they were 'in the process' of applying for a short term let licence when consent was refused.

It comes after the city’s licensing system for short-term lets went live on Sunday, October 1 following an initial six-month delay. The change means it will be illegal for anyone to continue to run a holiday let without having applied to the scheme.

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Plans to refurbish Meadowbank and Duddingston lodges as holiday lets were made public in January 2020 - the day before the crackdown on short term lets was announced. An advert was posted for an agency to manage the lets.

At the time the housing minister Kevin Stewart was asked in Parliament whether the properties would be applying for planning consent. He responded that it was ‘greatly preferable for them to be used as holiday accommodation for the benefit of tourists and visitors as opposed to lying empty, derelict and unused.’

HES previously stated that if consent is refused the property is likely to remain vacant, due to its status as a publicly owned historic asset.

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We applied for retrospective planning permission for change of use for two ancillary properties within Holyrood Park, and were in the process of applying for a short term let licence.

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“We are disappointed to have our application refused as, prior to being earmarked for short term lets, both properties had been vacant for over 5 years. As properties in care, there is no residential alternative for the buildings and we were keen to bring them back into use to provide additional revenue we could reinvest into our properties, and our work to promote and protect Scotland’s heritage. Following the recent decision we plan to review next steps.”