A campaign group that has long opposed the demolition of Ayr’s former Station Hotel building is calling for a national debate on the demolition of Scottish heritage.

Heritage group SAVE is calling on the Scottish Parliament to debate a gap in legislation that leaves listed buildings across the country vulnerable to demolition. 

They’ve launched a public petition that aims to address a legal loophole in laws surrounding listed buildings which gives local authorities the power to demolish them under the grounds of public safety.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “We see a huge opportunity in bringing this national issue to the attention of MSPs and opening a much-needed debate on the protection of listed buildings across the country.

“These buildings are gifts to the nation from the past – and we should be taking every step necessary to ensure they are protected from unnecessary demolition – as is intended by the legislation.” 

It comes as the demolition of the former Ayr Station Hotel is set to be completed by Monday 17 June, after South Ayrshire Council pushed ahead with safety works to the tower and north building.

The former hotel has been the topic of controversy in the town for several years now, with the local authority being forced to fork out tens of thousands of pounds every month to secure the building with scaffolding.

However, after an arson attack in September last year, it was deemed to be beyond repair despite calls from SAVE to restore it.

At one point, the owner of the building Mr Eng Haut Ung, emerged to try and halt the works, but the Court of Session rejected his bid, allowing for the demolition to continue.

Now SAVE is looking to close the loophole that allows councils to destroy listed buildings without extensive reports and surveys being carried out.

A spokesperson for SAVE said: “The current loophole allows councils to demolish listed buildings under emergency public safety powers without providing evidence to justify their actions. The case follows the highly controversial demolition of Category B listed Ayr Station Hotel by South Ayrshire Council which is still ongoing.  

“It has been carried out due to public safety concerns, following a major arson attack last year, but without the reports or surveys to justify the decision being made public and without providing evidence that alternatives to total demolition were robustly explored.

“While fully recognising the paramount importance of making dangerous buildings safe, enhanced guidance is needed to address this policy gap, setting out the minimum structural evidence and process required before undertaking demolition works to listed buildings on public safety grounds, including when consulting national heritage advisor Historic Environment Scotland.

“This will ensure only the minimum demolition necessary takes place to make the building safe, avoiding excessive or total demolition.”


The petition so far has only amassed seven signatures, but it aims to prevent buildings like Ayr Station Hotel from being brought down without ‘robust and transparent’ justification.

The specific policy controls they’re suggesting to be introduced alongside existing public safety legislation are:

  • Enhanced policy guidance setting out the minimum evidence and processes required by local planning authorities before making decisions on demolition of listed buildings under emergency powers  
  • A mandatory policy requirement for local planning authorities to engage conservation-accredited engineers in all cases involving works on listed buildings  

The petition has also garnered support from politicians in Scotland, including MSP for Glasgow, Paul Sweeney.

The Labour MSP said: “This petition addresses a glaring loophole in existing policy. It is not acceptable that councils can demolish listed buildings in Scotland – using so-called public safety powers – without providing evidence to show that there is no alternative to demolition.

“It is my hope that the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee backs this petition so that we can strengthen protections of listed buildings in Scotland.”