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Decision on A-listed status for Aberdeen’s ‘brutalist’ flat blocks ‘on hold’

Aberdeen's Virginia Court and Marischal Court. Picture by Kath Flannery.
Aberdeen's Virginia Court and Marischal Court. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Work to potentially award eight Aberdeen flat blocks the same protected status as the likes of Marischal College is “on hold” until further notice.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is considering awarding Category A listed status to the city’s Gilcomstoun Land, Porthill Court, Seamount Court, Virginia Court, Marischal Court, Thistle Court, Hutcheon Court and Greig Court.

But a spokesman has confirmed there will be no imminent ruling on whether the “brutalist” high rises are to be protected because of the pandemic.

He told The Press And Journal: “This decision is on hold until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

The heritage quango described the 1960s-era buildings as “brutalist multi-storey ‘slab’ blocks of flats”.

It said Category A is the “most appropriate level of listing” due to “outstanding architectural interest and rare survival”.

That would put them on par with some of Aberdeen’s most historic buildings, including The Music Hall, St Machar Cathedral and King’s College.

But the discussion has proven controversial in Aberdeen as owners – including the council – were concerned listed status would vastly increase the cost of home improvements.

The conservation status would require special permissions to make many alterations.

Aberdeen Council formally opposed the proposals and accused HES of having already made up its mind before consulting the public.

Leaders flagged concern listed status could have “a detrimental impact” on safety in the high rises, after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The heritage body conducted a six-week consultation online and held two public sessions to gauge opinion.

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