Historic Scotland (Odeon Cinema, Edinburgh)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

3. To ask the Scottish Executive what recent discussions it has had with Historic Scotland regarding the former Odeon cinema on Clerk Street, Edinburgh. (S3O-13216)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Following the decision to refuse listed building consent on 21 May 2010, there have been no bilateral meetings between the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland about the Odeon cinema site.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I thank the minister for her answer. She may be aware that the owners have resubmitted their controversial plans for the Odeon to the council after failing to find a buyer, but there are real concerns among the community, potential buyers and arts groups that the guide sale price of £2.93 million did not reflect the deterioration and dilapidated state of the Odeon.

In the minister’s last letter to me in November she advised that

Historic Scotland has indicated that due to the volatility of the market and the lack of recent sales and comparables, a set price may be inappropriate”.

In the light of those comments and the community council petition to save the Odeon, which has collected more than 4,000 signatures, will the Scottish Government now intervene to save this important building?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

As a former minister, the member will be familiar with the rules relating to planning applications. If there is a live application currently with the council, the matter is with the council for determination. She will also be familiar with the process under which there may, in future, be reference to Historic Scotland. We must reflect on where the application that is currently before the council is in the process, and I understand that no decision has been made in the past few days. The member will appreciate that we must abide by due process. I am aware of her and other MSPs’ concern about the building; however, as I said in my answer to her first question, listed building consent was refused on 21 May 2010, which was the last time that there was involvement by Scottish ministers in the case.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I associate myself with Sarah Boyack’s remarks. The minister will be aware that there is great concern in the community that the developers are using an overinflated price as a ploy to ensure that no one can buy the property and keep it in the design that we need to save. Given that concern and the involvement of Historic Scotland, in the past, in facilitating discussions on the matter, will the minister do all that she can to ensure that Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government once again get behind the campaign to ensure that we save the Odeon in its current state?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I place on record my acknowledgement of Shirley-Anne Somerville’s firm interest in the case. She invites me to provide support from Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government for the campaign; however, I ask all members to reflect on the fact that ministers are not in a position to support a campaign when they might have to make decisions about a listed building consent. There are procedures that we have to follow. In this instance, the ball is firmly in the council’s court and it is the council’s responsibility to make a decision at this time. I recognise the efforts that are being made—the local campaign group has kept me informed of its activities—but it would be wrong of me to prejudge any decision that might be required of the Scottish ministers in the future.