Resident fury over Portaloo in Edinburgh’s Unesco world heritage area

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RESIDENTS living in the heart of the capital’s world heritage area have blasted workers for placing a portable toilet six inches from the window of a historic 18th century home.

Stuart McFarlane said he was in “disbelief” when he returned home from a business trip to see the grey and turquoise toilet just inches from his living room window and less than a hundred metres from the Castle esplanade.

Stuart McFarlane (pictured) got a shock when he woke up to find a Portaloo had been placed right outside his front door. Pic: JP

Stuart McFarlane (pictured) got a shock when he woke up to find a Portaloo had been placed right outside his front door. Pic: JP

The desirable area’s status as a Unesco world heritage site imposes a series of strict rules preventing locals from making drastic modifications to the exterior of certain buildings.

It also means residents are unable to have communal bins, skips or other large items - including portable toilets - placed outside while renovation works take place.

However, pictures taken by Mr McFarlane show the plastic portaloo less than a foot from his window and in the middle of the historic courtyard at the centre of the properties.

The structural engineer, 40, has lived in the house once owned by Allan Ramsay for just over a year and spotted the temporary structure outside on his return.

He said: “You aren’t even allowed to have your bins out the front here. We can’t have communal bins either, even during the festival. No skips, nothing in front of the house.

“It’s a Unesco world heritage site and then we get this, I end up with a portaloo six inches from my front window.”

Properties in the area have sold for anywhere between £570,000 and £1.2 million over the past five years.

Mr McFarlane added he later found out the toilet had been there for more than a fortnight while he was away.

He said: “It’s so bizarre, you just have to laugh at it. I wonder if they knew that this sort of thing was banned before they put it there.”

“I’ve spoken to almost everyone I know in the area and they don’t seem to know anything about it. Nobody seems to be owning up to it, you talk to the other people in the apartments and, obviously there are few holiday lets that don’t have permanent residents, but no one else is owning up to it.”

Mr McFarlane continued: “There seems to be this complete silence surrounding where it came from.”

The baronial-style 18th century property was initially built in 1733 by wigmaker and poet Ramsay, before the surrounding buildings were added 27 years later.

The area was adapted into its current layout by renowned urban planner Sir Patrick Geddes with design help from Stewart Henbest Capper in the late 19th century and currently comprises 16 apartments, some of which are currently rented out as holiday lets.

Mr McFarlane said the portable toilet - leased by Nixon Hire - has since been removed from the area, but work is continuing on a property inside the block.

A new plan for Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns World Heritage Site - which extend from Quartermile to Dean Village and from the west end to the Palace of Holyroodhouse - was drawn up in March.

The site was inscribed by Unesco in 1995 and contains more than 4,600 buildings - over 75 per cent of which are listed for their special architectural and historic interest.