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Demolition of B listed Madelvic factory wont be called in

April 28 2010

Demolition of B listed Madelvic factory wont be called in
The Scottish Government have refused to call in Edinburgh City Councils decision to grant permission for demolition of the UK’s oldest car factory, the B listed Madelvic at Granton.

Dating from 1899 the plant was a pioneering attempt to introduce electric cars to Britain, sadly however the concept came a century too soon and the idea failed to take off.

Despite this the buildings have lingered on but now developers the Burrell Company and Council owned EDI are looking to sweep away that history and develop housing, despite opposition from Historic Scotland and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

Planners argue that were the buildings to be retained it would be impossible to advance proposals for the wider site with local councillor Allan Jackson denigrating the architectural worth of the site in any event describing it as: “an old brick thing falling to bits.”

But conservationists point out that there are pre existing plans from Malcolm Fraser Architects to retain the fabric of the site which serves as an important reminder of an increasingly distant industrial past.

This includes an ornate portico preserves the fledgling technology in stone depicting the “fifth wheel” of the Madelvic brougham cars, used to power the vehicles via a chain drive from the electric motor,

Originally it was planned to renovate the structure as headquarters for Waterfront Edinburgh back in 2002, but these plans fell through.

Later Malcolm Fraser Architects drew up plans for the buildings conversion to live/work units within a wider residential masterplan, but this too fell victim to the downturn.

Demolition permission is subject to approval of detailed redevelopment proposals for the site.

Photograph taken by Granton History Group

It is argued that new economic realities mean this project no longer stacks up
It is argued that new economic realities mean this project no longer stacks up
Malcolm Frasers plans incorporated the factory within a high density residential neighbourhood
Malcolm Frasers plans incorporated the factory within a high density residential neighbourhood


#1 Posted by NR on 28 Apr 2010 at 11:18 AM
SAVE Britain's Heritage objected to the demolition also, and sought a call-in for the plans. It is considered that not all avenues have been explored which should and could have been before permission to demolish the production block was given, and therefore national planning policy for the historic environment is once again ridden over roughshod by Edinburgh Council. It seems to be a habit (see Caltongate and the proposed sale and demolitions of listed buildings, not an isolated example).

Granton's industrial heritage, which includes the listed Granton gasometer (future also uncertain) is being wiped out without a great deal of thought.
This is a fine historic ensemble of office and factory which can and should be retained and re-used; the factory building is currently neglected but it is, acccording to recent surveys, sound.
There really does need to be some wider investigation into the issues surrounding permission to demolish being granted.

It is becoming clear that devolving more powers over listed buildings to local authorities and not calling in those permissions which could be considered against the national interest for wider scrutiny is not working.
Anon E Mouse
#2 Posted by Anon E Mouse on 28 Apr 2010 at 15:57 PM
That image is a bit misleading as it's the entrance to the Office Block. It's only the Production Block that's gained consent for demolition.
#3 Posted by NR on 29 Apr 2010 at 09:45 AM
Yes, it's the large production block that so far has been given permission for demolition; that's in the picture bottom right, which shows the scale and relationship with the smaller office block, and the picture bottom left, which shows the proposed conversion.

However, the two combined are historically important and the office building will be left without its wider context if the factory block is demolished. It could also be vulnerable to future attempts to clear the site.
And demolition is hardly 'sustainable' is it?

Listed buildings should not be disposed of so readily.
Get Real
#4 Posted by Get Real on 29 Apr 2010 at 13:42 PM
The reality is that if it does not stack up financially, which it will not, otherwise the original project would have been completed before the market downturn , some form of public sector financial contribution will be necessary. In the current economic climate where is this going to come from please !

We can't keep every old building there must be real design quality, history alone is not enough
#5 Posted by NR on 29 Apr 2010 at 14:45 PM
Indeed, history should be enough for something of national importance. The issues raised, including delays, are those which could and should have been explored more fully at a public inquiry.
No, we don't keep every old building, although sustanaiblity ceratinly comes into re-use, but those listed as being of national importance should be given every opportunity to be kept, as national policy states. In this case, there are doubts.
Fae Granton
#6 Posted by Fae Granton on 29 Apr 2010 at 15:09 PM
A public enquiry!? Some people just love pissing money away. Shame nobody's gone out and taken pictures of what it currently looks like. Here's some from a few years ago. It doesn't look any better now.

#7 Posted by NR on 29 Apr 2010 at 15:35 PM
I took pictures very recently. The building is in good structural condition, however. Yes, currently it is not the prettiest, but that's not the point. A re-use scheme can see it repaired and valued.

Why is the building not properly 'mothballed'? It is eminently re-usable, for a variety of purposes.

As for 'pissing money away' then yes, there are times an inquiry is required, in order to raise all the issues. Should national policy be cynically disregarded? There are questions which need to be answered.

#8 Posted by NR on 29 Apr 2010 at 15:54 PM
And Malcolm Fraser is correct, although its more to do with policy not being properly applied. CEC needs to be closely questioned as to what is going on. It is curently in legal difficulties with the sale of listed buildings for demolition re Caltongate, so really, possibly it needs to consider that it hasn't always got it right.

"Fraser said: “I’m distressed. I understand that the housing proposed in these listed buildings is “not economically viable”. But what housing proposal is viable, these recessive days? How does this then make it okay to knock down a listed building? Or is it the case that, in a recession, any listed building can be sent for landfill? If this is the way that legislation is framed in Scotland, it needs changed."

Fae Granton
#9 Posted by Fae Granton on 30 Apr 2010 at 12:41 PM
What is the national/international importance of the Madelvic? It was a failed business venture producing an electric carriage for one or two years, no examples of which remain, and contributed nothing to the development of the UK car industry. It's not the equivalent of Highland Park technologically or historically, it's more like a dead end. But then again maybe that's emblematic of what Scotland cherishes.

Interestingly, Mr Fraser managed to get consent for a fair whack of the building demolished, presumably re-use of that was physically impossible.
Get Real
#10 Posted by Get Real on 30 Apr 2010 at 13:27 PM
NR the issue of importance needs to be prioritised and frankly we can only afford to save the best buildings. This building is not the best either historically or architecturally. The fact that National Policy may dictate otherwise signifies that the policy may need to be reviewed not that the current proposal is wrong. Fae makes some valid points about the value of the buildings history. Someone must pay for mothballing , please advise who should pay and justify to the wider public that this should be at the expense of other more publically beneficial projects. You state that the building is eminently re-useable, provide a business case and justify it ? Sorry to be so blunt but hard times are ahead and more difficult decisions than this will need to be made
#11 Posted by NR on 30 Apr 2010 at 13:49 PM
Well, no. If we went that route of saving only the claimed 'best' buildings (the pretty ones perhaps?) then all the interesting and important 'lesser' buildings which make up so much of our history will gradually be removed in the desire to make profits.

This is B listed. It's of national importance. The owners could ensure it isn't allowed to deteriorate further; it's always useful isn't it, to allow a building to rot then say it's beyond economic repair?

Production block, dating from 1898, is the historically important part; the infill less so. Of course if a re-use scheme could be found which included that also it would a bonus, but at times there has to be pragmatism involved in re-use.

Not all avenues for the re-use of the building have been explored it seems; and using the current economic climate as justification to demolish seems very short sighted.
Get Real
#12 Posted by Get Real on 30 Apr 2010 at 14:20 PM
NR I agree with your first paragraph and do not contenance un-necessary demolition and degradation of our national character. Many buildings have been lost due to planned neglect however your comment is slightly cynical perhaps the owners have other more pressing finacial obligations. Developers and planners both need to be challenged and both need to compromise however in this case I believe the planners will have weighed up all the circumstances and come to what I believe is an appropriate decision.

We can sometimes lock ourselves into a round of endless studies postponing the inevitable and using cash that could possibly be better deployed elsewhere.I believe the public paymaster would side with the planners in this instance.

Do you believe in the building enough to devote your personal time, energy and wealth to it ? In this case I dont but there are other buildings where I would
Fae Granton
#13 Posted by Fae Granton on 30 Apr 2010 at 14:26 PM
Just saying it's B listed and of national importance is not a argument. It suggests that the category of listing is unchallengable. Its history is not of national significance and the category of listing probably ill advised, reflected in Historic Scotland's current lack of intervention.

The office block will remain of local historic value and a sufficient remnant of the Madelvic project. Why was it even called Madelvic?

#14 Posted by NR on 30 Apr 2010 at 15:05 PM
Actually, Historic Scotland opposed the demolition. However, call-ins to look at all the information are becoming too increasingly rare, which is possibly something which requires scrutiny.
i'm pleased at your naivity with regard to planners, I hope that you also think Sant exists.

It is B listed and no doubt it was considered very carefully in the context of its historic significance.

So, why are you so keen to see it bulldozed then?

Get Real
#15 Posted by Get Real on 30 Apr 2010 at 15:20 PM
NR I am afraid you have not
1- suggested who will pay for short term stabilisation / repair works pending re-use and if this is CEC justified this expenditure relative to other calls on public expenditure
2- suggested a viable alternative use
3- confirmed your willingness to spend your own time and money to promote re-use of the building
4- justified the cost associated with a call in and review of the demolition relative to other calls on public expenditure

Have a nice weekend tho !
#16 Posted by NR on 30 Apr 2010 at 16:57 PM
And oh look, it's in the Guardian.
Oh Get Real, get real. This is cynical short termism and it's all resolvable if the will is there. But are you saying this building left to rot and be torn down belongs to CEC? My how shocking!

#17 Posted by Cadmonkey on 1 May 2010 at 21:22 PM
Is it not the legal responsibility of an owner of a lister building to maintain it? If so in this case the burrell company not CEC who should be footing the maintenance bill. That said I drive past this every day and can't believe it's listed. Smacks of a young over keen historic Scotland apprentice looking for a spurious reason to list something.
#18 Posted by NR on 5 May 2010 at 16:34 PM
Is it Burrell who actually is the owner? It would be useful to know. Now that demolition consent has been granted the building will be left to rot even further. It can't be demolished until new plans are in place, but do those have to be viable plans with guaranteed funding?

There is so much about this whole situation which should have been investigated in detail at a public inquiry. That possibly could have been embarrassing though, in the 'conservation lite' scenario mentioned elsewhere. Can't kick up a fuss, historic buildings are expendable.

As for listing, it's not one person responsible for that. It also appears that it's listed not without good reason, for social and historic interest; the office block and factory block as a whole.

Now, who will be willing to design a new development, in place of the listed building? No doubt architects will be lining up. As with the Trump development at Menie, there's always someone.
Fae Granton
#19 Posted by Fae Granton on 5 May 2010 at 17:02 PM
*sigh* campaigners really ought to do their own homework.

It's owned by BUREDI which is a joint venture partnership between Burrell and the EDI Group which is wholly owned by CEC. Cue allegations of corruption....

Maybe Malcolm Fraser Architects will be invited to design the replacement.
#20 Posted by NR on 5 May 2010 at 17:26 PM
Why? it's far easier and more amusing to allow those who are clearly 'interested' to show what they know. My, corruption? Who would think that. It couldn't possibly the case, could it?

Posssibly RMJM can be asked, along with Fred Goodwin. That would be fitting, surely?
#21 Posted by Kirsty on 1 May 2017 at 00:34 AM
We had a business in buildings not far from here, owned by BUREDI, few years bk we had terrible rain & roof leakage, 5 businesses were severely affected, and the building sodden. Who footed the bill, we all did (& insurance company)... after 8 mths they sent a man to check gutters (it wasn't gutters, they knew that, we knew that) & he fixed two tiles. 2mths later, buildings all flooded again...more money wasted on dehumidifiers, carpets, equipment etc STILL not fixed roof, wasn't until the waterfront plans fell silent that they did temporary fix.... so get the idea they want to demolish this too. I grew up north Dundee, in 70/80s they demolished soooooo much, and built crap, cheap, fast profit builds, over past 15 yrs they've spent rectifying this and desperately saving what little there us left if real city (not just gentrified architecture, big houses and posh offices), granton, newhaven (little less so) & Leith suffer similarly, and council is still at it. All eras of time, types of business/commerce/industry shld be repressted equally, the heart if said communities ought to be saved, embraced and remembered not swept under carpet as the council & developers try and sweep the local community away, building new ghettos that young north Edinburgh professionals/families looking to buy a home could never afford, in process drowning out soul of an area, the charcter and the ppl the city STILL needs to make the city work. By removing everything from past for a gentrified future you leave what? A community devoid of identity, no signifiers, no features to embrace, be proud of, remember and be passionate about. Grant on should be proud of its heritage from fishing, railways, ferries, and freight warehouses, to the gas works (love seeing them as come in by plane, beautiful at sunset too!), to united wire and a company WAY ahead if it's time, and much more that has already been lost! The council might argue that he local youth are up to criminal activity in such buildings, or that vandalism & deterioration is due to poverty if locals, and they gave nothing to do, so the area falls into disrepair....well EdCouncil, give them something to be proud of, embrace their heritage so they don't feel ashamed of it, think before building endless developments of shitty tiny soulless flats with no outdoor space, greenery, gardens or space to play (or you might as well keep the Multis) while breaking up communities as you try and price them out (eventho most will still lie largely empty 10yrs after completion, who wants to live just surrounded by endless car parks and flats wedged btwn supermarkets, garages and main roads, certainly not the cliental they hope to get to the area!!) & once you've built some fancy new yacht club etc don't decide "right bouys, it's posh now....let's knock down the local stores, reci centre, builders yard, wee (but filled with thriving new businesses, in new industries incl. film, employing locals, offering apprentiships to teens and adults alike) industrial unit parks etc etc oh and during work, the buses will run late, road will dug up, we need to knock down few more remainders of the STILL much loved railways lines (great cycle, walking paths, all round area from cramond to portobello, and also safly into north Leith and up town too!)... ed council need restrained and their demolition/shite development fetish clamped down upon, and taught the Value of preservation, conservation, pride and community identity & heritage.

As b-listed, there are LOTS of valuable things thus space could be used for, easily...

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