Beauty and the bulldozers ...

The Tattie Kirk which is now Zuri Boutique
The Tattie Kirk which is now Zuri Boutique
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Dozens of buildings across Falkirk are in danger of being lost forever.

The Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland lists historical buildings throughout the country which are vacant and in a state of disrepair and aims to prevent them from being demolished.

In the Falkirk Council area, 27 buildings are on the register – from Dunmore Park in Airth to the Royal Hotel in Slamannan – but many of them are on the verge of falling into such a state that demolition is the only option.

In fact, Falkirk demolishes more historical buildings than other parts of the Scotland. On average since the register started 22 years ago, 38 per cent of Falkirk buildings added to the register were removed because they had been demolished. The national average is 25 per cent.

Alex Adamson, project manager for the organisation and originally from Grangemouth says it’s vital we try to protect historical buildings for future generations.

He said: “There are a lot of beautiful buildings in the Falkirk area but some of them are very close to being lost.

“On the other hand there are some great success stories locally too, with buildings that looked certain to be demolished turned around. The Hippodrome in Bo’ness lay vacant for a number of years but was then transformed into a cinema – the purpose for which it was originally built – and is back in community use.

“There is also the Tattie Kirk just off Falkirk’s Cow Wynd. It lay vacant for a long time but now has been completely refurbished and has a new use as a shop.”

Alex says he is happy for the use of buildings to change, just as long as they are retained and protected.

“We often see churches being turned into flats and that causes debate within communities who oppose the idea. I welcome debate but the fact is that most buildings will go through changes of use throughout their life time and that is normal – it’s just a matter of protecting them and making sure they retain the original feel and character.”

Since the register began, 18 buildings have been removed because they have been restored while 11 have been demolished, including the old Falkirk Police Station.

Local historian Ian Scott, pictured inset, says more needs to be done to protect them.

“The figures in Falkirk are particularly bad and to hear they are worse than other parts of the UK is not good news. I was told on average Falkirk loses a historical building every year and already we have lost Falkirk Royal Infirmary this year which was of huge importance to the local community.

“Many buildings we would consider as historical – such as the hospital – were not given listed building status which makes it more difficult to protect them.

“We will be kicking ourselves in the future if we do not protect these buildings – and future generations will damn us for our carelessness.”

With the property market still reeling from the recession, developers are less likely to take on big developments but Grant Keenan recently applied for planning permission for three buildings from the register – Larbert House, walled garden and stable block – to transform them into 56 luxury homes.

Mr Keenan, managing director of Strathyre Properties lives in Larbert is keen to save historical buildings.

He said: “I tried to buy parts of the old Royal Scottish National Hospital a few years ago but it was impossible and now a demolition order has been granted to knock it down.

“I think it’s absolutely critical we save these buildings. There is so much history in them, and in the surrounding area, which should be preserved.

“But I understand why so many are being demolished – it costs around double to refurbish a historic property than to knock it down and build on top of it.

“With the property market so unstable it’s a risk lots of developers are unwilling to consider but I am passionate about saving them. Some of the buildings on the list have stood for 200 years. We have lost fantastic buildings in recent years – it’s imperative we don’t lose any more.”

Members of the public can suggest buildings that they think should be added to the register.

Call 0131 651 6854 or visit www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk for more information.