Suntrap House and Gardens to be sold by National Trust for Scotland
A HORTICULTURAL treasure bequeathed to the nation by a pioneering philanthropist has been put on the market to raise urgent funds for the cash-strapped National Trust for Scotland.
Suntrap House and Gardens, near Gogarbank, to the west of Edinburgh, was the home of one of Scotland’s early environmentalists, George Boyd Anderson, who bequeathed most of the land to the NTS after his death in 1972.
But the trust, which now insists that Suntrap has no “heritage value”, has put the house and two acres of gardens on the market at a guide price of £395,000 after campaigners failed to raise the necessary funds to save the property.
Bell Ingram, the estate agents, are marketing the property as a unique opportunity to demolish the existing house and rebuild within Edinburgh’s green belt.
Mark Mitchell, rural land management director with Bell Ingram, said: “Suntrap House and Garden is a true Scottish treasure. The stunning gardens are steeped in horticultural history and the sale provides a unique opportunity to preserve a hidden jewel.”
The entire garden was run by Oatridge College for 26 years until 2010, when it reverted to the NTS after the college said it could no longer afford the cost of £750,000 in repairs. It then became the first Trust property earmarked for sale, following an independent review of the Trust’s finances and an admission it was considering selling some of its large property portfolio to stave off a financial crisis.
Terry Levinthal, the National Trust for Scotland’s director of conservation services and projects, said the garden had “very little heritage value”. He added: “We have been more than patient with the Friends [of Suntrap charity] and have given them well over a year to come up with viable alternative options that would not require the Trust to meet the running costs of Suntrap. No such options have come forward, and as we ourselves are a charity we would be in breach of our fiduciary duties if we allowed the situation to continue indefinitely.”
However, Isobel Lodge, chairwoman of the Save Our Suntrap committee, insisted yesterday that the group did now have a business plan but still lacked the necessary funds to purchase the property.
She said: “We were extremely disappointed when they put the ‘For sale’ board up. We continue to be very disappointed that they have not given us more time. We have not yet given up but it is hard and we are fairly desperate. We need a sponsor to come in and buy it for us so that we can continue it in the way that it was intended by the original benefactor.”
Mike Crockart, MP for Edinburgh West, said: “It’s disappointing that the NTS is going through with the sale. The Friends are still engaged in putting a business plan together and I would have hoped that NTS would have given them more time.”
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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