Lamb's House: History expert hits out over flats plan

A LOCAL historian has hit out at plans to convert a 17th century building into flats.

Developers want to create apartments and offices in the A-listed Lamb's House at the Shore in Leith.

The site is where Mary Queen of Scots made her dramatic return to Scotland from France in 1561.

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Local historian John Arthur said the building would be better used as a heritage centre.

He told the Evening News: "This is a missed opportunity as far as I'm concerned.

"What we need in Leith are things to keep people here and make them want to come in the first place.

"The main source of income in future years for this area will be tourism with all the big liners coming in, but this building is the golden egg and we risk throwing that away.

"Thousands of homes and offices are already getting built at the docks and that's fine, but we don't want people to come off these liners, bypass Leith and go straight into Edinburgh because they think there's nothing here worth seeing.

"This would be an ideal place for such an attraction. There's no guarantee that these flats would sell or that office space would be filled."

The EDI group, the city council's arm's length development company, recently unveiled plans to redevelop the building. The proposals are currently being considered by council chiefs before they go to committee.

EDI also plans to create another building at a right angle to Lamb's House and reopen a nearby medieval close. The development would include nine homes, office space and on-site car parking.

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EDI acting chief executive John Mark Di Ciacca said: "One of Leith's finest buildings will be restored to its former glory.

"The redevelopment is now awaiting planning approval."

Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: "It's one of these developments that has been met with mixed views. There are some who do want to see it restored but there is a lot of concern as well about what will be done with it."

A landscaped public courtyard and panels charting the history of the building are also part of the proposals.

Period details within the building, such as fireplaces and joisted ceilings, would be preserved.

Mr Arthur is also campaigning for a museum elsewhere in Leith. A campaign group has been set up and it has taken its case to the Scottish Parliament.

It has also won widespread support among local politicians and celebrities such as pop duo the Proclaimers .