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Appeal against multi-storey listing put on hold so council ‘can build case’

HES announced plans to list eight high-rise blocks in Aberdeen.
HES announced plans to list eight high-rise blocks in Aberdeen.

An appeal against the controversial decision to grant protected status to eight multi-storey buildings in Aberdeen has been put on hold by the Scottish Government.

Earlier this year Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – the government’s heritage agency – earmarked the eight brutalist blocks for A-listed status.

However, the move proved controversial and was widely denounced by council leaders, MPs and MSPs – including government minister and Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart.

That was followed by Aberdeen City Council lodging an appeal with the Department for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).

Council ‘unable to access’ vital materials

Council bosses argued in their appeal that they have been unable to access key documents contained within the city archives and Central Library, which have been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

They claimed that led to them being unable to fully respond to the decision by HES to list the buildings.

Hutcheon Court and Greig Court are among the buildings to be listed.

Independent planning officials have now put the case on hold to allow the local authority to build its appeal.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The independent reporters have allowed further time for the appellant to submit a full statement of case on these appeals due to difficulties accessing certain documents during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Other parties involved in the cases will be given the opportunity to comment on this further information.

“The cases have therefore been put on hold pending submission of this additional information.”

Buildings have ‘outstanding importance’

The eight buildings are Hutcheon Court, Greig Court, Thistle Court, Seamount Court, Porthill Court, Virginia Court, Marischal Court and Gilcomstoun Land.

If the blocks are granted A-listed status, it means they would have the same protected status as iconic structures such as Aberdeen Music Hall and Marischal College.

The decision was taken by HES because of the blocks’ “outstanding importance” to Scotland’s history, with the organisation describing them as “some of the finest examples of social housing Scotland”.

In its appeals Aberdeen City Council argued that the buildings do not meet the listing criteria, and the extent of the listed status.

It has also claimed the decision to grant protected status would “present significant challenges for the council as corporate landlord”, as well as the negative public view of the buildings in the city.

Further claims state the designation will have a “critical impact on the economic development” of the sites, and that it will cause “unreasonable additional costs”.

A HES spokesman said: “In January, HES listed eight multi-storey buildings in Aberdeen at Category A in recognition of their outstanding architectural and historic interest.

“We are aware that Aberdeen City Council are appealing the decision to list these buildings. The appeals are now with the DPEA division of the Scottish Government, and we await their decision.”

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