Edinburgh tourists to get the chance to stay in historic lodges of Holyrood Park
Bosses at Historic Environment Scotland say leasing the listed lodges - part of Prince Albert’s 19th Century landscaping plans - will bring in much-needed funds.
But critics questioned the decision as campaigners fear the impact of more holiday homes on Edinburgh’s housing market.
Green councillor Alex Staniforth said: “This is a spectacular example of bad timing by HES as the debate about the level of tourism in Edinburgh reaches new peaks.
“It also raises questions about traffic management in the park which has proven to be a thorny issue, particularly over the New Year celebrations.
“So I’d much prefer that government agencies focused on setting an example: showing how historic buildings in high-profile settings can be restored to offer permanent homes for people to live in.
“It’s time to call off the tendering process and seek a provider who will manage the properties as homes.”
The project will see Meadowbank, Duddingston and Dumbiedykes Lodges turned into holiday lets, while Holyrood Lodge will remain as a visitor centre.
Bosses at HES said it was “too early” to give projected costs or income for the project.
But a public tender document reveals the organisation is to pay an agency £9,000-a-year to manage and market the lodges to holidaymakers from March.
Planned by Prince Albert in his landscaping of Holyrood Park from 1855-8, the lodges boast a similar distinguishing gabled style.
All four are scattered around Queen's Drive and separate the distinct parkland area of Holyrood Park from the surrounding city.
The lodges were designed by Robert Matheson, the then Clerk of Works for Scotland.
He carried out a programme of gradual improvements to the palace, the park and the abbey precincts at the request of Queen Victoria.
These improvements included designing the lodges for the entrances to the Park and the fountain in the forecourt of the Palace.
A spokeswoman for Historic Environment Scotland said: “HES is currently seeking to appoint an agency to manage and market three lodges within the boundary of Holyrood Park as holiday lets – Meadowbank Lodge, Duddingston Lodge and Dumbiedykes Lodge.
“This project is designed to bring these historic lodges back in to use, with revenue generated supporting the wider work of HES to protect and promote Scotland’s historic environment, while also creating a unique new visitor offering within Edinburgh.
“We have recently successfully piloted a similar project in Melrose with the formerly vacant Cloister House, which is adjacent to the Abbey, now restored and in use as holiday accommodation.”