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Fowler's Old HQ now focus for 'Community Right To Buy' by Arts Festival

Turning the Campaign heat up!

The determination of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival to fight the possible demolition of the Old Fowler's HQ took a dramatic new turn this week. The Arts Festival set in hand an application to register a Community Right To Buy at a fair price. Their Press Release reads as follows:


"The community’s campaign to save the old Coeval building/ Fowler's old HQ in Prestonpans geared up this week with the announcement that they are not only seeking to have it listed by Historic Scotland but are also applying to the Scottish Executive under Community Right to Buy procedures in place since 2003.

The application has already been made to Historic Scotland's Chief Inspector to have the building listed because of its historic significance to the town and they are due to inspect it on 16 August.

Now an application is being developed under the Scottish Parliament's Land Reform [Scotland] Act 2003’ which can accord communities first refusal on the right to buy land they have an interest in when it comes up for sale.

The building currently belongs to the Lidl supermarket chain [who are incidentally seeking a new East Lothian site in Dunbar], and has been for sale since it became vacant in 2006. It was originally built as the headquarters for Fowler’s Ales in the 1950s and still retains many of its fine original neo-art deco features.

An offer of £250,000 + warranted land subsidence remediation of up to £40,000 to buy it was made by the Prestoungrange Arts Festival early in 2006 which has still not been formally declined. The Arts Festival wants to restore the building and create an arts centre for all the Three Harbours' communities. They also plan to locate the re-born Fowler's Ales there, currently housed at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg, as its expansion continues - back to its roots!

Supporters assert that the building is the last remaining relic of Prestonpans’ industrial heyday and should be safeguarded from developers at all costs. They fear that Lidl is doing little to curb the vandalism which is damaging the building and rumours are very strong that they are looking to sell it for housing development. Lidl has dismissed the campaigners as 'misguided'.

Tom Ewing, a local artist born in The Pans and one of the leaders of the community campaign, said: “We’re deeply worried that Lidl is planning to sell the land to developers who will want to pull down the building to make way for yet more new housing which is the last thing we need here in Prestonpans.

“We had hoped that East Lothian Council would block plans for yet more housing, when the building could be used for a community resource such as an arts centre, but it seems as though they have not yet been prepared to support the community in this.[ELC Cabinet Member Councillor Peter MacKenzie was however at the most recent protest meeting.]

“Now we’re taking things higher and applying to the Scottish Executive under their Communities Right to Buy scheme. If we’re successful with 10% of the community in support we will have six months to come up with the funds to buy the land at a price stipulated as fair by the Executive.”

“It's important for such an application that the Arts Festival show lots of support from the community, so I urge everyone to look out for and sign the petitions which we’ll be distributing around the town in the coming weeks.”

Published Date: August 6th 2007

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