Celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Factory No.1
Deborah Stone finds the redevelopment of iconic buildings in Edinburgh is creating stunning homes.
When James Miller decided to sell up the family home and move into a flat, one of his daughters put a photo of the building on Facebook saying: “Look what my dad has downsized to.” One look at historic building The Playfair at Donaldson’s in Edinburgh, explains exactly what she meant.
The neo-gothic building was designed by one of Scotland’s most famous Victorian architects, William Playfair, who was responsible for the Scottish National Gallery. It opened in 1851 as a children’s school and hospital and until 2008 it was still a school for deaf children. By then it needed extensive repairs and the site was sold to Cala Homes, which has worked with heritage developer City & Country to transform the much -loved building on the edge of Edinburgh into 110 elegant apartments.
Mr Miller has lived in west Edinburgh all of his life and driven past the building hundred of times but never dreamt he would end up lobbing among its turrets and cupola. “My wife had a stroke five years ago and with all the maintenance of the home and garden we’d enjoyed for years now just on my shoulders, it became too arduous,” he says. “I saw that The Playfair was being renovated and so kept my eye on the works to check out its potential as somewhere to downsize to.”
Now in his 80’s, Mr Miller visited the development with his son and says: “While I originally looked for a two-bedroom apartment, the three-bedroom property in the corner really caught my eye. It has views across the Pentland Hills, which I’d had for 60 years, and facing south and west it gets the best of the little sunshine that we get here in Scotland Being fully-fitted in the kitchens and bathrooms meant we could move straight in but it also has space for much that we had accumulated over the years, meaning it felt like home straight away.”
Property sales in Edinburgh are still strong, in contrast to the UK, and the city’s Warners Solicitors & Estate Agents says Edinburgh’s property market is at its most active in more than a decade. Nearly 30 per cent more homes went on the market from May to July than during the same time three months a year ago. “This growth in supply has been vital to the market,” says Warnes’s operations director David Marshall. “Throughout 2017 and the first half of 2018, there was a huge excess of demand over supply. This mean that, in many cases, buyers has to pay substantial premiums over and above the Home Report valuation if they wanted to have a chance to secure a property. Today most properties are still selling quickly and achieving food prices. During the past three months the average selling time that Warners recorded was just 20 days, with almost 85 per cent of homes sold achieving a price equal to or above the Home Report Valuation.”
More than 30 per cent of apartments at The Playfair have now sold but one-bedroom properties are still available form £415,000, with two bedrooms from £580,000 and three bedrooms from £1,125,000 (01279 817 882, cityandcountry.co.uk).