RETAIL bosses have vowed to restore the famous Forsyth Sphere more than four years after it was removed from the roof of Topshop on Princes Street.
An enforcement order was taken out last year to force the Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, to reinstate the three-tonne metal globe after the company took it down without permission in 2012.
Now shop bosses have revealed they have finally begun the process of returning the landmark to its rightful place – but they declined to put a date on its restoration.
Last year’s enforcement order gave a deadline of next Tuesday for the statue to be put back into position.
If Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green fails to comply with the demand, it is understood the council could carry out the work and reclaim the cost – estimated at £200,000.
A spokeswoman for Topshop said: “We can confirm that the Forsyth Sphere restoration process has now begun. An updated programme with relevant dates will be released to the local council.”
The statement marks a significant change from the company’s claim early last year that it had “no plans” to bring it out of storage.
The A-listed Forsyth Building was built in 1906 and originally housed a department store run by RW Forsyth, before this shut in the 1980s.
Arcadia took over the building in the early 2000s, and it now houses Topshop and Topman on its lower floors, with the upper levels leased to Travelodge. The iconic building was Scotland’s first steel-framed structure, and the sphere on top – which measures 4.7 metres by 2.6 metres – soon became a much-loved landmark of the city’s skyline.
Designed by Gilbert Bayes, its intricate layout features the signs of the zodiac flanked by cherubic figures. When the statue was taken down in March 2012 for repairs, many expected it to be reinstated within weeks. Instead, it has languished for years in a steelyard in Fife.
David McLean, of the Lost Edinburgh website, has collected 4500 signatures calling for it to be put back – even securing the support of Irvine Welsh.
He accused Arcadia of “disrespecting the skyline of Edinburgh” and warned failure to force the issue could set a potentially dangerous precedent.
He said: “For me, the major reason people should care is because we shouldn’t let a company worth billions away with such things.
“I don’t believe for a second that they don’t have the money to put it back.”
A council spokeswoman said the local authority would consider its next move if the enforcement notice is not complied with by next Tuesday.