McDonald's wants Conan Doyle's home for a drive-thru burger bar

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To add insult to injury, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former Edinburgh home has come under threat of development by McDonald's.

To add insult to injury, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former Edinburgh home has come under threat of development by McDonald's.

The fast-food chain's plans for a "drive-thru" outlet on the site have infuriated Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts who want to see the 18th century house turned into a museum, celebrating the author's life.

Conan Doyle grew up in Edinburgh and lived at Liberton Bank House from 1862 to 1867, after moving there at the age of three. McDonald's originally wanted to demolish the house but had to change its plans when the building, now in a rundown state, was given protected status through its historic link with the author.

The company has revised its plans so that the house will remain though it will be hemmed in by the restaurant. Objectors say McDonald's, which wants to lease the land next to a shopping centre from its owners Pearl Assurance, will develop the site but leave Liberton Bank House isolated and bricked up, making it impossible to restore.

"His formative years started in that house. That is where he learned to read and write," said Owen Dudley Edwards, historian and author of The Quest for Sherlock Holmes, about Conan Doyle's early years. He branded McDonald's plans as "sickening" and "greedy".

And Heather Owen, editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal, said: "It would be an ideal spot for a museum. We would not like to see McDonald's taking the place of such a home of literary significance."

McDonald's latest planning application was put before Edinburgh City Council earlier this summer. It is not due to be discussed until later in the year, but a council spokesman said there were already reservations over the scheme. "We do have some concerns with the plan in so much that it may well harm the building. Historic Scotland has reclassified the house as a listed building and any development would have to be sympathetic to the house regardless as to whether it's in a run-down state."

Gillian Lavercombe, spokeswoman for McDonald's, defended its plans, saying it would not stand in the way of "Arthur Conan Doyle interest groups" that wanted to take on the house and renovate it.

"We believe that the two buildings can easily sit side by side and be very sympathetic," she said.

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