Historic Madelvic car factory set to be demolished after Edinburgh Council U-turn

BRITAIN'S oldest car factory looks set to be demolished after planners did a U-turn on its future.

Developers asked for permission to demolish the grade B-listed Madelvic car factory in Granton Park Avenue in 2008.

Council officers recommended that it should be preserved and developer Buredi withdrew its application before a final decision could be made.

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Now the firm – a joint venture between The Burrell Company and council-owned arms-length company EDI group – has repeated its request to knock the building down, and looks set to be given the go-ahead.

The move has been opposed by Historic Scotland and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS).

The plant was originally built in 1899 to make electric vehicles and is thought to be one of the oldest surviving purpose-built car factories in the world.

In a report due to go before tomorrow's meeting of the development management sub-committee, council planning officers say: "There is a compelling argument to retain the building based on its existing condition and its historic and cultural associations, but it is accepted that should the building be retained intact, it would appear impossible to advance proposals for the redevelopment of the wider site.

"The building could remain unoccupied indefinitely and fall into further disrepair, whilst the remainder of the site remain undeveloped as a gap site blighting the redevelopment of Granton."

Historic Scotland argues in its submission: "The Madelvic's production blocks are an important reminder of Edinburgh's industrial heritage, with a wider historical interest as the earliest surviving motor works in the UK. We believe that they represent an opportunity to retain and reuse a historic building."

Euan Leitch, spokesman for the AHSS, said: "If the council give consent, it will be the tenth listed building that the council have given permission to demolish in just over the two years.

"That's a trend that I would be concerned about. In virtually all these, the economic argument has been the most powerful argument with regard to demolition."

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But Forth Councillor Allan Jackson said he would be delighted to see the building go. He said: "It's an old, old brick thing falling to bits and the only reason it is listed is because of its connection with the car factory. There's nothing in the building itself of any historic interest to anybody, so any about-turn which means it could be demolished is really to be welcomed. It's the best way forward for this area."

Councillors are recommended to grant permission for the building to be demolished on the condition it is not done until detailed proposals for redevelopment of the site have been approved.