Minto House demolition starts

DEMOLITION WORK on a historic country house in Scotland restarted yesterday after the local council ordered that part of it should be knocked down because it is dangerous.

A substantial part of Minto House, near Hawick in the Borders, will be demolished this week and an application has been made for permission to knock the rest of the building down.

The house, owned by Lord Minto, was at the centre of a preservation controversy last week when it was hurriedly granted Category A listed-status by Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr Lang intervened at the request of conservation groups after demolition men set fire to it. This was a preliminary move to knocking down the house, which was remodelled by James Adam in 1738 and which has been unoccupied since 1966.

After a series of site meetings over the weekend, Borders Regional Council yesterday issued a notice specifying which parts of the house were considered to be dangerous and ordering them to be demolished.

Douglas Connell, Lord Minto's lawyer, said: 'The work has started this afternoon. A substantial part of the remaining structure is to be demolished and this will take several days.'

He said that Lord Minto, who is convenor of Borders Regional Council, had already lodged an application to get consent to demolish the rest of the house. This will be considered by the council.

Elspeth Henderson, spokeswoman for Historic Scotland, the body responsible for the country's listed buildings, said the organisation had attended the site meetings and had had 'an input' into the decision.

But Marianne Watson-Smyth, secretary of the conservation group Save Britain's Heritage, which asked Mr Lang to intervene, said: 'We shall continue to oppose demolition and will strongly object to the application for listed building permission to knock the rest down.'

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