03 August 2013

The Demolition of Croftinloan House provokes foreboding about the imminent
fate of Pitlochry’s Bank House

All this month we have been watching the gradual destruction of Croftinloan House from our windows, the cutting down of mature trees and the demolition - first of the school chapel, then the old laundry building and finally the main house itself, writes ROGER WEST.
It has been heart breaking to see the gradual disappearance of these noble buildings especially as we know that, with a little imagination, a perfectly good alternative use could have been found for them. But imagination and, indeed, common sense itself are commodities that are rare among developers and planners and these are the people who decide the fate of such buildings. In the end the planners chose the third-rate solution. What a mess!
CroftinloanHsecompleteWebBuilt in the early years of the Victorian era from the 1830’s onwards by a relation of the Duke of Atholl, Croftinloan House became a school in 1936 and subsequently gained a high reputation before closing for financial reasons in 2000. Many former pupils in Scotland and elsewhere have happy memories of their time there and received a good education.
The house has been empty since 2000 but the grounds remained attractive and full of wildlife.
Now many local residents are concerned that the developer pays little regard to the environment:
•  what happened to the bats roosting in the roof?
•  why have burns which drain the site been allowed to silt up threatening to flood houses in Croftcroy? and
CroftdescendingWeb•  why did the developer demolish the Victorian garden wall which the P&K Council insisted should be retained and included in the housing scheme?    

New Housing Welcome
The fact that there will be houses built on the former school site is welcome but the necessity of getting rid of the house cannot be understood.
One of the most depressing aspects of Croftinloan’s destruction is that we know that, any day now, demolition of the Bank House in Pitlochry will start. The noise, dust and general disruption that we are now experiencing in Croftinloan will be experienced to a much greater degree in the Atholl Road in Pitlochry to the annoyance of the inhabitants and visitors alike.
At least we know that the demolition of Croftinloan House will make room for CroftGoneWebmuch needed, reasonably priced houses. But the lovely Bank House will be replaced by ugly and oversized buildings of no architectural merit and of little use to the town, designed for a developer who does not care a jot for the future of Pitlochry and is only interested in swelling his bank balance. 
We will see the arrival of some tacky shops that we do not need, like Starbucks and MacDonalds, and Pitlochry will descend into being a mere clone town disfigured by dirt and litter, all its individuality lost for future generations.
The fears amongst some in the town are that visitors driven away by the coming disruption to the centre of Pitlochry may well be deterrred from returning.
My view is that, very probably, the magic and charm will have disappeared from this town as far as most visitors are concerned and they will avoid it in favour of other towns which have succeeded in keeping their individuality and character. 
Croftnewhouse1webI dread to think what Perthshire will look like in 25 years’ time under the P&K regime, particularly if the SNP remains in control of its administration. Last September SNP elected members voted en bloc for the destruction of the Bank House, most of them having not even bothered to visit the site.
We must hope for a more enlightened structure of local government and better quality planners than the ones we are currently cursed with.
Housing Progress
Meanwhile, at Croftinloan the pile of rubble shown here is now all that remains of this once grand house.
Despite being expressly forbidden to destroy it, the developers, Grovebury, also flattened the beautifully constructed 8 foot high Victorian wall (also pictured) which was part of the walled garden.
When first on site the contractors dumped clearance spoil onto ancient oak woodlands at Ballyoukan. This was reported to P&K Council which threatened a large fine if it was not removed. The contractors complied, but throughout the process the woodland was raddled and mature trees were damaged.


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