The city of Aberdeen could yet take the Scottish Government’s heritage body to court in the fight to stop the listing of five high rises.
Council leader Jenny Laing has told Aberdeen Journals that the local authority’s legal experts will be summoned on the first day back after the festive break to consider their case for a judicial review.
On Thursday, the government’s planning and environmental appeals division (DPEA) decided that five should be awarded the highest historic protections available, Category A status, while three others – Hutcheon Court, Greig Court and Thistle Court – should not.
And Labour’s Mrs Laing has confirmed lawyers will be rallied on their first day back to work.
DPEA reporters, Allison Coard and Stuart West, ordered the listing was altered to allow internal change within the flats and shops.
However, there remains significant concern about the extra cost and bureaucracy required to make changes to the exterior of properties – with the council the majority owner across the five blocks.
Aberdeen high rise A-listing ‘bitterly disappointing’
Mrs Laing said: “I am bitterly disappointed that the Scottish Government has chosen to move forward with listing for Virginia Court, Marischal Court, Gilcomstoun Land, Porthill Court, Seamount Court and the adjoining shop units and multi-storey car park despite the strong appeal submitted by Aberdeen City Council.
“As we have only just received the judgment it is our intention to discuss the matter further with our legal team on January 5 to see if there are grounds for a further appeal to the Court Of Session.
“Once again, we are seeing Aberdeen and its residents being negatively impacted by decisions being made by the Scottish Government as it is clear that both owner occupiers within the blocks listed and the council could now face greatly increased costs for the upkeep of the exteriors of these buildings as a result of this ruling.
“This rides roughshod over local democracy and I don’t think anyone in Aberdeen will be pleased with this decision.”
Her administration colleague, Conservative finance convener Ryan Houghton, added his condemnation on Twitter, revealing the solicitors would be sounded out on the potential for a judicial review.
Hugely disappointing decision that goes against the interests of both council tenants and owner occupiers.
I will speak with council legal officials and colleagues next week to consider if further action is appropriate including seeking judicial review. https://t.co/BLVXbX6ftO
— Ryan Houghton (@Ryan_Aberdeen) December 31, 2021
Listing of Aberdeen’s brutalist flats part of move to recognise Scotland’s post-war architecture
Other modern buildings awarded similar protected status include the Banana Flats in Edinburgh, which featured in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.
Last February, Seamount Court – one of those still A-listed in Aberdeen – was used for filming the Soviet-era Jon S Baird movie, Tetris.
The government reporters ruled all eight towers did not need to be listed but that the five selected demonstrated “architectural and historic interest”.
Hes celebrates the multi-storeys as “significant landmarks” and Scotland’s best examples of the post-war brutalist social housing.
Head of designations, Dara Parsons, said: “There isn’t another group of this quality and distinctiveness in Scotland.
“It’s important that the remaining listed buildings have been recognised for their contribution to Scotland’s story.”