There have been mixed reactions to the
council proposal to demolish the B-Listed building, which has lain empty for
five years, due to the recent discovery of asbestos.
Some said they would
lament the loss of the building, which has been a feature
of the town since the 1940s, while one resident
described the site as "an absolute
A council spokesman
revealed to the Advertiser that asbestos had been found within the fabric of the
building and said a removal of the dangerous substance would result in a loss of
the building's listed status.
There has been speculation over the reasons
for property developer George Wimpey's withdrawal of its proposal to redevelop
The company had planned to turn the former school into 63
flats and erect 110 homes in its
Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab)
said: "Since the closure of the former Dalkeith High School, Midlothian Council
has sought to secure a viable redevelopment of the site which included the
retention of the listed buildings.
"A development brief was prepared
focussing on housing.
"After an extensive marketing campaign a preferred
developer was identified.
"Considerable detailed negotiation with that
developer on the final form of a scheme eventually secured what appeared to be
an effective solution for a difficult property.
"However, more recently in seeking
to finalise the deal, extensive evidence of asbestos throughout the building
fabric has been found. There is also clear evidence of rot.
"As a result,
the developer has withdrawn on the basis that no scheme is now economically
"Most importantly to remove the asbestos – even if it could be
done to everyone's satisfaction, including future buyers – would effectively
remove the reason for the original listing.
"The council considers the
only viable course of action is to seek listed building consent for demolition –
and then allow appropriate redevelopment to take place on this important town
The front part of the
school was built in 1940 and the rear was erected 19 years later.
historian and former provost, David Smith, said he would like to see the
building used as some form of public facility.
He said: "From a purely
historical point of view, it would be sad to see the demolition of the old high
"Although not of great architectural merit, the entire complex
adds variety within a residential area. It is an important feature of
On the asbestos discovery, Mr
Smith added: "I find that difficult to believe. So far as the original part of
the building is concerned.
"I appreciate that it might be difficult to
convert the whole
building into flats, especially the dining hall, concert
hall and gym.
"One should consider using such parts of the building for
a sports hall, community and arts centre or library.
"It is important to
equate new housing developments with good community facilities. Dalkeith is
behind. The new campus at Thorny-bank fails to meet the social needs of central
"A complete removal and the building of yet another housing
site and nothing else would close another episode in the town's
However, historian, Rae McGhee,
described the building as "an absolute eyesore".
She would like to see a
development which would blend in with the surroundings as long as it was
"sympathetically developed and beneficial to the local economy".
said people were being kept in the dark about what was going to happen to the
town centre and its other derelict buildings.
Dalkeith Community Council
chairman, Neil Hynd, said the matter would be considered at its August 12
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