Row over historic protection for 'eyesore' gasworks

The Provan Gasworks in Glasgow is now a Grade B listed building. Provan Gasworks in Glasgow is now a Grade B listed building.
The Provan Gasworks in Glasgow is now a Grade B listed building.
Pressure is growing on heritage chiefs after three disused gasworks were given listed building status with claims the protection will stymie development at the redundant industrial sites.

Scottish Gas Networks has appealed to the Scottish Government planning reporter after Historic Environment Scotland awarded the former gasworks planning protection, including Provan in Glasgow where the largest gas holders in the country can be found.

Meanwhile, a cross-party group of Fife politicians today called on the Scottish Government to reject the Grade B-listing of two gasholders at Grange Road in Dunfermline, saying the move will hold back development and new opportunities at the “eyesore” site.

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Two gasholders at a third site, the old Temple gasworks in Kelvindale, Glasgow - which sit by the Forth and Clyde Canal - now also have protected status.

Historic Environment Scotland said the sites were landmark structures and “important reminders of an industrial process that is now largely redundant.”

But protests are growing over the designations, which mean that planning permission for new uses of the land will be harder to achieve. Concerns have also been raised about maintaining and securing the sites on an ongoing basis.

Douglas Chapman, MP Dunfermline & West Fife (SNP) said: “The listing of the gasholders can only be of detriment to this area of Dunfermline at a time when Fife Council are looking to increase employment and residential opportunities.

“The gasholders as they stand at Grange Road provide no significant purpose and it is illogical to continue to maintain these, as they have both a negative environmental and economic impact on the locality.”

A joint statement released by a number of Fife councillors claims it is also “highly unlikely” that a viable alternative use for the gasworks exists, given the unusual form of the structures.

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It is also claimed that costs of repainting the Dunfermline gasholder frames, which is due to be carried out within the next five years, could triple to an estimated £900,000 if listed building status is upheld.

Councillor Garry Haldane, Labour member for Fife Central, is one of four members to lodge their objections to the listing with the planning reporter.

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He said: “Where the structures stand are an eyesore, especially for the residents at the Izatt Avenue Estate opposite who look out to this site, and pass everyday on their way to the town centre by foot. The removal of these structures would greatly benefit this community.”

HES said the gasholders at Grange Road were a “striking example of historic industrial infrasructure” and were among a very small dumber of surviving structures of their type and date in Scotland.

The Dunfermline Gas Light Company opened at Grange Road around 1893, having moved from a smaller site in the town.

The larger premises allowed the firm to supply the demands of Dunfermline damask production, with the cloth highly regarded around the world. Gas was also needed by rope making and iron founding, as well as the expanding population.

HES described the gasholders at Provan as a regional landmark of striking scale.

A statement added: “Provan Gasworks is a highly significant industrial site for the production of gas in Scotland and the surviving historic buildings.”

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A spokesman for Scottish Gas Networks said: “We have been tasked by the energy regulator Ofgem to dismantle all our gasholder fleet by 2029. This is because we can now store gas in pipes, which is much more cost effective. Compared with the rest of our assets, gasholders represent a heightened safety and environmental risk.

“Our gasholders in Dunfermline, Provan and Temple are all no longer in use. It’s not sustainable for us to keep these redundant structures in a safe and visually acceptable condition long term. We’re also committed to redeveloping the land they sit on for use that’s more beneficial to the local community, such as housing and business premises.

“Because of this, we are appealing the decision by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to list these gasholders. The appeal process is currently ongoing.”