It is to be hoped that the New Year brings a new beginning for the building at the conclusion of the process we, the owners Duddingston House Properties, have embarked upon with the full support and knowledge of the Scottish Government, Historic Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council.
Significant interest has been shown in the building during the rigorous marketing process, and we will know on January 5 if that interest will translate into good, economically viable and sustainable bids for the building.
Once the bids are with us they will be dealt with by us with the full participation of the three organisations and we will make an announcement as to how we will proceed as soon as we know and evaluate the nature and content of the bids we receive.
The building has been on the market for seven years, since we took ownership, and during that time there have been intensive periods of activity.
Our proposals envisage the removal of the main auditorium interior, which has suffered from insensitive alteration work by previous owners. A significant proportion of the building will be restored, including the iconic frontage, entrance, crush hall and cafe. Our proposals gained full planning consent and strong support from the council but were objected to by Historic Scotland. A public inquiry earlier this year resulted in the Reporter responding to its concerns by requesting a further marketing exercise to ensure all possible options for the auditorium's restoration had been fully explored.
Since then, we have been involved in the most transparent and robust marketing process imaginable. First, we had the building valued by a leading firm of international valuers following a strict process laid down by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The valuation established a price of 2.93 million and was undertaken with the full knowledge of the government, the council, and Historic Scotland. Each has had weekly reports on all activity over the last three months with regular meetings to report progress. During this period of marketing we have had dozens of expressions of interest, some more serious than others, and we are hopeful that this will bring in genuine bids which are properly funded and which offer the building a genuine and viable future.
In its letter of support for Duddingston House Properties' proposals, The Cockburn Association states: "Fortunately, the present owner is keen to retain a large degree of the present structure while realising a scheme to secure its long-term future. His plans for the building demonstrate a sensitivity for its fabric and its role."
Charles McKean said he regarded the proposal as "one of the most imaginative" he had come across in tackling the problem of finding sustainable uses for former cinemas. He added that cinema buildings were often space-wasteful, with very little obvious potential for reuse. A survey carried out for us shows more than 90 per cent of local businesses support the plans.
The entire Odeon process does flag up some issues of concern. Edinburgh benefits from its wonderful architecture, yet it is also a wonderful place because our city centre is a living one, not a museum. Finding new uses for our unique heritage is an ongoing dilemma, and is one in which I am keenly interested. Indeed, Historic Scotland has informally consulted me in the past to seek out advice on buildings and their potential.
I have very extensive experience of bringing listed buildings back to life. My company is based in an A-listed building I restored from derelict, and more than 50 per cent of the property I have worked on has been listed - including the former BBC office in Queen Street, now The Jam House.
As a developer I am acutely sensitive to the complex issues relating to listed buildings, but in Edinburgh we have many listed buildings and it is essential that we manage to find long-term viable futures for them. It is simply not sensible to insist that buildings should continue to enjoy their original or a previous usage, or to somehow expect that economic viability does not have an important role to play in finding the right future.
• Bruce Hare is chief executive of Duddingston House Properties