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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 11:47 GMT
Laird fined for castle demolition
Lanrick
Dickson said the castle was in a dangerous condition
A laird who defied his local authority and went ahead with the demolition of an historic castle has been fined 1,000.

Alistair Dickson, who owned dilapidated Lanrick Castle near Doune in Perthshire, was found guilty after a trial at Stirling Sheriff Court and was given three months to pay the fine.

Sheriff Wylie Robertson told Dickson, 53, that the demolition of the B-listed castle on 16 February was not urgently needed for safety reasons, as the owner had argued.

The sheriff also criticised Stirling Council for bureaucratic failings which caused conflicting messages to be sent out to the castle owner about demolition.

I have no doubt that Mr Dickson had concerns in relation to public safety, but I find it difficult to accept that was his prime motivation

Sheriff Wylie Robertson
The prosecution had accused Dickson of allowing the castle to fall into decline when he inherited it from his mother in 1984.

He was accused of ignoring warnings that he needed listed building consent to knock it down.

The prosecution said he could have fenced it off to make it safe while officials considered how it could be saved or its best features could be preserved and recorded.

However, procedures by Stirling Council, which was responsible for protecting the castle, were described as "inept" .

Sheriff Robertson said: "I have no doubt that Mr Dickson had concerns in relation to public safety, but I find it difficult to accept that was his prime motivation."

He said that in order to comply with the law on listed buildings, Dickson should have fenced the castle off, rather than calling in contractors to knock it down.

Alistair Dickson
The owner said he is considering an appeal
The sheriff criticised Stirling Council for issuing dangerous buildings notices obliging Dickson to begin fencing off or demolishing the castle within seven days.

However, at the same time the council told him that he could not do either without official consents that could take months to obtain.

The sheriff said this was "a bureaucratic nonsense" and there was a conflict between the council's building control department and planning department over the respective notices.

Sheriff Robertson said the fine was a "nominal" penalty in comparison with the maximum 20,000 in law.

He added: "It would be naive to suggest that there is no financial benefit to the accused from no longer having responsibility for this ruinous structure.

"However, what was lost in this case was a ruinous structure that had been in this state for many years."

Valuable features

Dickson said: "We are considering making an appeal. I have no further comments to make."

The fine was criticised by Brian Parnell, convenor of the Stirling Civic Trust, which had campaigned for seven years for the castle to be saved.

He said: "It will undoubtedly encourage demolitions elsewhere.

"Unscrupulous owners will now think, 'yes, for a few hundred pounds, I can get this down'.

"We may now lose a lot of very valuable historic buildings where money haven't been forthcoming and the local authority hasn't taken strong enough steps."

Mr Parnell said the castle had many valuable features, including ornate Adam fireplaces, oak panelling and decorated ceilings.

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28 Jul 02 | Scotland
07 Mar 02 | Scotland
19 Feb 02 | Scotland
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