Historic farmhouse to be demolished for ‘ugly’ flats

Comiston Farmhouse. Picture: Ian Murray MP
Comiston Farmhouse. Picture: Ian Murray MP
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ANGRY residents have condemned plans to demolish a 150-year-old farmhouse to make way for “ugly” flats.

Developers want to knock down Comiston Farmhouse – a historic relic of the old Comiston Estate, now owned by the council – and build four blocks of four-storey apartments.

The campaigners' drawing of the proposed flats on the site of Comiston Farmhouse. Picture: contributed

The campaigners' drawing of the proposed flats on the site of Comiston Farmhouse. Picture: contributed

But locals have slammed the proposal as an “imminent tragedy”, and insisted it would “rip the heart out of the community and put children at risk”.

They argue the structure is “one of the few remaining reminders of south Edinburgh’s rural past” and was built by William Notman, one-time assistant to world-famous architect William Henry Playfair.

Simon Newton, who lives nearby, described the proposed flats as “an ugly mess”.

He said: “Is it really going to be the case that a farmhouse bearing 150 years’ worth of illustrious history with strong local and city-wide connections is to be obliterated forever – to be replaced by an anonymous architect’s concrete and glass bauble of no great merit, [which] will be moth-eaten in a third of that time and carry with it no historic interest whatsoever other than that its construction saw the demise of something greater?”

Is it really going to be the case that a farmhouse bearing 150 years’ worth of illustrious history with strong local and city-wide connections is to be obliterated forever – to be replaced by an anonymous architect’s concrete and glass bauble of no great merit?

Simon Newton

The dad also raised fears over related plans to build a road across a popular route local children take to school.

But developer Chamberlain Bell argued the scheme would pump much-needed cash into the council, which has placed the property on the open market subject to planning permission. And design and technical director Alan Bell pointed out the building is not currently listed by Historic Scotland despite two separate site visits by officials.

He added: “The council has a lot to gain from the whole thing going ahead. They get money from the site, and then there’s the ongoing [developer] contributions towards education – [as well as] additional social housing and additional council tax.”

He argued any attempt to convert the existing farmhouse would mean fewer flats overall – and less money for the council in selling the site.

A petition calling on the council to save the historic building, which until recently housed the Pentland View Close Support Unit, has so far amassed more than 130 signatures. The proposals will go before councillors later in the summer.