Astonishment as Scottish Government block Elgin High Street plans

Scottish Government block plans for Victorian building

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has blocked plans to turn an Elgin town centre building into new homes and retail units.

Councillors gave the go-ahead to the redevelopment of 184-188 High Street with the current building being demolished – but only after the Victorian stonework had been painstakingly preserved.

That decision drew an appeal to the Scottish Government by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – and minister decided to uphold that appeal, effectively ending the plans of developers Action Elgin Ltd., who now say they will withdraw.

A director of Action Elgin, Sandy Adam, said the project was dead despite HES insisting that they would be prepared to negotiate an alternative. Mr Adam said: “We were asked if we could help – although High Street regeneration projects are not something we have experience of, developing this property to deliver affordable homes and workplaces seemed worthwhile.

“Unfortunately, the result of this appeal means we will not be able to take the project forward.”

Councillors moved quickly to slam the Scottish Government decision, with economic development and infrastructure chairman John Cowe saying he was astonished – and disgusted.

He said: “That building is an absolute eyesore on the High Street – the historic façade was always going to be retained, it would look exactly the same from the street. The flats would have been high-quality – which would have made a huge difference in attracting professionals.

“Nobody is going to want to touch the building with a bargepole after this.”

HES insisted that they were prepared to work with the council or developers, their spokeswoman saying: “We believe every effort should be made to retain and reuse listed buildings.”