The Sunday National and Architects' Journal both recently reported that the Scottish government is interested in the Spanish paradores system where the state takes over historic buildings, such as castles, and turns them into high-end tourist accommodation.
If adopted some of our at risk castles would have a future, at the same time providing a boost to the Scottish economy. Initial proposals are Fairburn, Dunnottar, Collarnie, Tioram, Earlston and Sauchie castles.
However, the devil is in the detail. Rather than adopt the Spanish model it is envisaged that Scotland would require a public private partnership to deliver the investment raising the challenging issue of who provides the money! Again the listing system in Scotland, where a site can be classified as of national importance can make it difficult for any alteration to be made to an ancient building.
The Scottish Castles Association have long stated that ‘for a building to have a future it must have a use’ so the paradores model is at least worthy of consideration by the government. It will be interesting to see how the discussions develop.
Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.
* Photograph of Paradores Ronda by Stian Olsen is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0