A campaign group says the sad story of the former Station Hotel in Ayr shows why listed buildings in Scotland need better protection.

SAVE Britain's Heritage claims that current legislation allows councils to demolish listed buildings under emergency public safety powers without having to provide evidence to justify their actions.

South Ayrshire Council says safety works that have seen most of the former Station Hotel  demolished following the devastating fire last September are due to be completed by this Monday, June 17.

Direct trains between Ayr and Glasgow Central are scheduled to resume on the same day.

SAVE accused South Ayrshire Council of carrying out the work without publishing any reports or surveys to justify their decision, and without providing any evidence that alternatives to total demolition had been "robustly explored".

SAVE has now launched a petition at the Scottish Parliament calling for an urgent debate to address what it says is a "gap in the legislation that leaves listed buildings across the country vulnerable to demolition".

A spokesperson for the group said: "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 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. 

"SAVE’s petition is calling for policy safeguards to ensure that listed buildings like Ayr Station Hotel cannot be demolished without robust and transparent justification."

SAVE wants two new policy controls to be introduced alongside existing public safety legislation.

* 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 listed buildings.

Following the Station Hotel fire, the council assumed legal responsibility for the site, with building control proceeding to demolish the south wing of the building.

In February, SAVE called for the retention of the listed building’s surviving north wing and tower as a key priority in South Ayrshire Council’s emerging vision for Ayr town centre.

However, South Ayrshire Council began demolition of the tower and a substantial portion of the north wing in April 2024, on the grounds of public safety.

A Dangerous Buildings Notice has been issued by South Ayrshire Council, requiring the owner of the building to make the surviving section of the north wing safe. 

A council spokesperson said: "For over 10 years, we have been actively working to protect the public and the critical infrastructure of the railway.

"As a result of the extensive fire in September 2023, the Council’s Building Standards team instructed urgent safety works to be carried out under Section 29 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

"The former Station Hotel is a Grade B listed building. Section 29 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 gives a local authority the powers to make safe a building that presents an urgent risk to safety or adjoining property.

"Throughout the safety works dynamic risk and structural assessment have been made. This has involved consultation and engagement with Heritage Environment Scotland at all stages."