A two-year wrangle over the controversial decision to give eight city high-rises A-listed status could be resolved within weeks.
In October 2019, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) announced its intention to grant A-listed status to the Brutalist multi-storey buildings, which it claims are of “outstanding historic significance”.
The blocks – Gilcomstoun Land, Porthill Court, Seamount Court, Virginia Court, Marischal Court, Thistle Court, Hutcheon Court and Greig Court – officially became listed earlier this year.
It means they have the same protected status as iconic buildings such as Marischal College and the Music Hall.
Aberdeen City Council immediately lodged an appeal with the DPEA, the Scottish Government’s planning appeals department, claiming it would affect its ability to carry out maintenance and repairs.
Officials also questioned whether the buildings met the criteria for listed status to be granted in the first place.
Now public documents show DPEA bosses are aiming to have made their decision on the appeal by November 8.
Why were high-rises listed?
The eight blocks were granted listed status because HES – the public body responsible for protecting the country’s heritage – regards them as having “outstanding importance” to the nation’s history.
It plans to use them to tell the story of how Scotland emerged from the Second World War, and described them as “some of the finest examples of social housing in Scotland”.
However, the decision was met with fury in the city, with Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart – at the time the Scottish Government’s housing minister – branding it “ludicrous”.
Douglas Lumsden MSP, the then-co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, added it was “the craziest decision people in this city will have ever heard”.
The council itself 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.
What is appeal latest?
The appeal was put on hold because of Covid-19 restrictions as the council’s archives, as well as Central Library where much of the information needed to build its case, were closed.
However, city officials have now been able to submit documents to the DPEA through planning consultancy firm Montagu Evans LLP.
In the meantime, residents have already been provided with draft guidance aimed at answering questions they may have regarding listed building consent or planning permission.
Councillors from the ruling administration declined to comment on the latest developments, while HES previously said it was “awaiting the DPEA’s decision”.