Forth Ports have submitted a planning application to demolish the Grade B listed grain silo on Leith Docks. They need to do this, in order to clear space for the giant power plant they propose to build on the site instead.
Interestingly, whilst the Scottish Government get to make the decision over whether the Biomass plant gets the go ahead, it is the City of Edinburgh Council who decide, in the first instance at least, whether to grant permission to demolish the building. Of course, if the Scottish Government doesn’t like the decision that the council makes then it can “call the decision in,” but nevertheless, this application gives the council some measure of direct influence over the planning process.
Apparently, Historic Scotland, the Scottish Government agency that might intervene, start from the premise that, “because listed buildings are a rare and unique resource, the presumption will be against granting permission to demolish unless it can be shown that there is no viable alternative.”
Prior to the Forth Ports application for Listed Building Consent to knock down the grain silo, Historic Scotland have kept their cards close to their chest on the biomass plans saying simply in thier submission to the Scottish Government:
“In the absence of this [listed building consent] application setting out the justification for the demolition of the listed building we are unable to give a view on the Section 36 application [to build a biomass plant]. As you will be aware
we cannot give a view on Listed Building Consent “in principle”.
Now that Forth Ports have submitted the planning application to knock down the grain silo, it turns out that the council have been having technical difficulties uploading all the Forth Ports Listed Building Consent application documents. However, we have managed to obtain an electronic copy of the main report, which sets out the ‘justification’ for why the Grade 2 building should be demolished to make way for the giant biomass plant. Whilst there are apparently pages and pages of appendices too, this report gives the main arguments. We understand that they are being digested by both council planning officers and Historic Scotland.
Of course in the City of Edinburgh Local Plan, the Grain Silo was to be retained, with a large public park constructed around it.
What do you think? Forth Ports claim that building a power plant on the site is the only viable course of action. Do you think that the Grain Silo should be demolished so that Forth Ports can build an even larger power plant on the site? Do you think it should be retained? Would a park be better?