The Scottish Government recognises the economic, social and cultural importance of our built heritage and is keen to ensure that that hugely important asset is protected appropriately and proportionately.
The protection of our heritage assets has been statutorily delegated to local government, given its role in the planning and development process, and Historic Environment Scotland. The Scottish Government becomes involved only in strategic or specific issues. I am aware that officials have spoken with representatives of South Ayrshire Council regarding, among other subjects, the potential preservation and renovation of listed buildings, but those conversations are part of a wider discussion.
The cabinet secretary will be aware of the expected reports on the Station hotel in Ayr, which is a grade B listed building. If the structural report is optimistic about the practicability of saving the building, will the Government, through its various agencies, offer the practical and financial support to return the building to worthwhile public and private sector use?
Obviously, the development of the Station hotel would be led by South Ayrshire Council as part of its wider regeneration work. With other agencies, Historic Environment Scotland is already involved in the Ayr station task force. It also spoke about the issue at a recent Ayr town centre conference that was organised by the Ayr Station hotel community action group. In December 2018, Historic Environment Scotland provided a summary of considerations to Transport Scotland relating to what needs to be discussed or justified in any listed building consent application, which will depend on what proposal is presented for the hotel’s future.
It will continue to provide advice, to help secure the hotel’s long-term future based on the local community and council’s decisions about what they need. HES also provides help through funding.
Obviously, some of the issues that the member raises are operational matters for Historic Environment Scotland. I keep a watching brief, and HES reports to me. I will continue to take an interest in the issue.