Old Dalkeith High School up for demolition following asbestos find

Published Date:
31 July 2008

THE FORMER Dalkeith High School is to be completely demolished – if Midlothian Council plans get the go ahead.
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 eyesore".


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 site.

The company had planned to turn the former school into 63 flats and erect 110 homes in its grounds.


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"As a result, the developer has withdrawn on the basis that no scheme is now economically viable.

"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 centre site."


The front part of the school was built in 1940 and the rear was erected 19 years later.

Local 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 school.

"Although not of great architectural merit, the entire complex adds variety within a residential area. It is an important feature of Dalkeith."


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 Dalkeith.

"A complete removal and the building of yet another housing site and nothing else would close another episode in the town's history."


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".

She 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 meeting.

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  • Last Updated: 31 July 2008 11:53 AM
  • Source: n/a
  • Location: Midlothian