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Atholl House Campaigners Furious
Campaigners are making a last ditch attempt to save a landmark building in East Kilbride town centre after a warrant was granted for its demolition.
Community groups have reacted furiously to the council’s decision to grant the warrant for Atholl House – the headquarters of the East Kilbride Development Corporation – to be torn down.
The building was leased by South Lanarkshire Council from Ediston Opportunity Fund and the last council staff were transferred to Hamilton at the beginning of the year.
Under building control regulations, the decision doesn’t need to go before a planning committee but campaigners including East Kilbride History Society, East Mains Community Council, and East Kilbride Housing Forum, have accused the council of going behind their backs by failing to carry out any consultation.
The application to building control was signed off in May of this year and Ediston told the News they plan to demolish the building and clear the site before Christmas.
In 2014 Ediston lost an appeal heard by the Scottish Government to turn the site into a supermarket after South Lanarkshire Council rejected numerous planning applications.
When demolished, the site will leave a gaping hole in the town centre just yards from the empty site where the Stuart Hotel once stood.
And now campaigners have written to South Lanarkshire Council’s chief executive, Lindsay Freeland, calling for the warrant to be reversed and are urging Ediston to reconsider and covert the building into much needed housing.
President of East Kilbride History Society, Joe Allan, said he was stunned permission had been granted to demolish the building without any public consultation.
He said: “It is absolutely unbelievable that this has gone through without anyone knowing.
“Myself and the other groups supported South Lanarkshire Council during the appeal by Ediston so at the very least they could have given us notice of the warrant.
“The decision has been taken behind our backs but we won’t just accept this without a fight because we strongly object to the building being demolished.
“The building has historical importance in the town and could easily be converted into flats, which is our preferred option given the chronic lack of housing in the town.”
Meanwhile, chair of East Mains Community Council, Bill Arthur, said: “This building has been such an important landmark in the town for so many years and for it to be pulled down without any consultation is ridiculous.
“A local councillor didn’t even seem to know anything about the warrant.
“We were witnesses for the council at the supermarket appeal, if they had consulted us at least we would have known but this was news to everyone.
“But, unfortunately, it is reminiscent of everything being taken out of East Kilbride and moved to Hamilton.
“The town has the largest population in South Lanarkshire but we are losing most of our front line services.
“It’s now time for something to be done and councillors to take a stance and save what little we have left in East Kilbride.”
And chair of East Kilbride Housing Forum, Margaret McGill, said: “It is absolutely appalling permission has been granted to demolish Atholl House.
“There is such a desperate need for housing in East Kilbride and the building would be perfect for converting into flats.
“It’s such a waste and the last thing we need is another big gaping hole in the town centre.
“Yet again the people of East Kilbride haven’t been consulted in this.”
South Lanarkshire council executive director of community and enterprise Michael McGlynn said: “Historically an application to build a supermarket on the site of Atholl House was refused, however, the demolition of the existing structure was not one of the grounds for refusal.
“Our building standards service, approved a demolition warrant on May 18. Our Service has received notification of the commencement of the demolition works, and will monitor the progress on site.
“It is anticipated an application will be submitted for the proposed redevelopment of the site and depending on the scale of any proposal, the applicant will require to undertake pre-application consultation with the public.
“On receipt of such an application, statutory consultation, neighbour notification and advertisement of the application in the local press will be undertaken to allow the public to make any representations to the council.”
A spokesman for Ediston Opportunity Fund said: “There are far too many office buildings of this type in East Kilbride and no demand.
“As a result the decision was taken to demolish and redevelop the site and hopefully we will be able to come forward with plans for redevelopment soon.
“Unfortunately, the building is in a poor state of repair and not suitable for other uses.”