Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Deal to save Midlothian Mavisbank Country House signed

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMavisbank House has suffered decades of neglect and was gutted by a fire in 1974

An agreement to safeguard a historic country house in Midlothian has been signed.

Mavisbank House was the first palladian villa to be built in Scotland but has been lying derelict since a fire swept through it almost 40 years ago.

Midlothian Council has signed the agreement to compulsorily purchase the Category A property.

The local authority plans to transfer ownership of the house to a local trust.

The Scottish government has announced a £500,000 grant to help secure the future of the building.

Mavisbank House, near the town of Bonnyrigg, was designed by William Adam in 1722.

It is described by Historic Scotland as one of the country's most important houses because of its architectural heritage.

It was gutted by a fire in 1974, but the Mavisbank Preservation Trust said it was confident it could restore the building.

The house is privately owned but its owners remain a mystery.

'Beautiful landmark'

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop visited Mavisbank House and witnessed the signing of the agreement.

She said: "The plans for Mavisbank House will not only enhance Scotland's rich historic environment, but also have the potential to become one of the most beautiful landmarks in the Lothians, delivering significant benefits locally."

The Mavisbank Trust plans to raise £12m from public, private and charitable sources to restore the exterior of the building.

The trust will adapt the interior to create holiday accommodation and a community facility.

Alex Hammond-Chambers, the chairman of the Mavisbank Trust, said: "Whilst securing the project funding will be a huge challenge in such difficult economic times, the grant from the Scottish government is an important step towards reaching our goal."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites