Botanics wins £1m funding lifeline to stave off closure

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has won a £1 million funding lifeline as bosses seek to stave off the threat of closure over growing safety fears from its ageing greenhouses.

The Grade A listed glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh are deteriorating and need to be renovated and renewed

The Grade A listed heritage Glasshouses at the institution, along with research greenhouses which house thousands of rare species are now in a “decrepit and deteriorating” condition.

Bosses have warned MSPs that the listed glasshouses “will need to be closed in approximately seven years if they are not restored or repaired.”

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The Botanics will now step up a funding push next year to raise about £33 million for the renovation and replacement project which is expected to run over the next seven years. It comes after securing additional funding in the recent Scottish Government budget allowing detailed plans for the scheme to be drawn up.

Regius keeper at the gardens Simon Milne said: “We have an additional £1 million to take our North-east corner project to the next stage which is very exciting.”

The closure threat emerged in a submission to MSPs ahead of the recent budget but Mr Milne is confident it won’t come to that.

“We’re working very well with the Government and we will be looking for other funders to do the necessary work to renovate and replace the glasshouses in the garden,” he said.

The extra cash provided by ministers will allow the Botanics to draw up an application for detailed planning permission for the refurbishment which could be lodged with council chiefs in the next year.

The impact of the deteriorating condition of the glasshouses at the Botanics is already being felt through more closures to allow maintenance work.

“That’s becoming more frequent as there is obviously a bit of work to be done,” Mr Milne added.

Bosses at the attraction will focus attention on how to raise the cash to save its collection, through Government cash and grants from other organisations. The work needed at the Botanics won’t result in any radical change in appearance to the gardens, but the use of the latest greenhouse technology will make a massive difference to operations.

“They will be the most up to date materials to make sure that they make best use of the space so they’ll be more efficient,” Mr Milne added.