Neighbours in doghouse over JK Rowling plan

IT IS just a few months since she snapped up a handsome new home in one of Edinburgh's most sought-after suburbs.

But for millionaire author Joanne Kathleen Rowling, one of Scotland's richest residents, moving into and refurbishing a spectacular period house is only the start.

The Harry Potter creator has been granted permission to create a new three-bedroom building in its expansive grounds. Along with plans to install kennels outside the main house, neighbours are convinced that JK Rowling is creating a security complex.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A nearby resident in the upmarket area has already lodged an objection against the kennels on the grounds of excessive noise but that was overruled by planning chiefs who fast-tracked the plans through.

One of her new neighbours, who asked not to be named, said: "The application has been kept pretty hush-hush. Very few people in the area seem to know anything about it.

"The whole property is shielded by large hedges so you can't really see where this new property would be but, seemingly, it will partly accommodate security guards and guard dogs."

Rowling bought the property for around 2 million late last year, at a time when top-end quality houses were cheaper because of the downturn in the housing market. Among the attractions of her new home is thought to be its secluded surroundings.

The plans never came before councillors, and were instead approved by officials under "delegated powers".

But council officials insist that it is normal practice to use delegated powers to handle "straightforward small-scale" planning applications.

A spokesman for the planning department said: "The nature of this application meant that it could be dealt with under the scheme of delegation and was not, therefore, required to be considered by the planning committee."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Work is now under way on an extensive refurbishment of the main house.

Work on the new building, which will replace a garage block, is expected to begin within months, once an archaeological survey of the site has been carried out. It will not be seen from the main house.

Rowling's architects, Patience and Highmore, told the council that the new property would be effectively screened and separated from the main garden by trees and hedges.

It said: "Our clients have only recently acquired (the main property] and fully appreciate its unique qualities and the importance of preserving it in its setting.

"These unique qualities were in fact the main reason behind their purchase and they are keen to ensure that any development is respectful of this important building."

In his report, the council's head of planning, John Bury, said the proposed new property was "compatible" with the architecture of the main building, and "will not significantly impact on its setting".

The council's report on the plans for the property acknowledges that an objection had been lodged about the kennels but states: "Potential noise from barking dogs is not an issue that can be controlled under planning legislation."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rowling, who has three children, will move to the new house from their former home in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh.

Neighbours there protested eight years ago when the author submitted plans to raise the height of the boundary walls and install security cameras.

Rowling, who also has a country estate on the banks of the Tay and a 4.5m house in Kensington, London, with 24-hour security, famously guards her privacy.

She was a struggling single mother when she moved to Edinburgh in 1993 and first lived in a tiny bedsit flat in Gardener's Crescent as she worked on her first Harry Potter novel.

She later lived in a succession of flats around the city, but moved to a mansion in Merchiston in the wake of the worldwide success of her Potter series.

After Rowling moved to south Edinburgh, it became known as "Writer's Row" as Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith lived nearby.

The Potter series has sold more than 400 million copies and the books and associated films have made the 44-year-old author one of the world's richest writers with a fortune estimated at around 500m.