Demolition crews save what they can for the reconstruction of the Scottish capital's historic Cowgate district.
Remnants of listed buildings will be recovered and used in the reconstruction of Edinburgh's historic Cowgate district, which was gutted by a fire at the weekend.

The conflagration, which raged for three days, damaged 13 buildings at the World Heritage site. Two of the 13, both of which were listed, were demolished on Wednesday. Experts are currently assessing whether any other buildings will need to be knocked down.

Edinburgh council asked the demolition teams to salvage the colonnade of the Gilded Balloon, a comedy venue used in the Edinburgh Festival. It also wanted to keep the Georgian gable of the mixed-use Leisure Land building. Council sources said they hoped these remnants could be used in rebuilding Cowgate.

Any new construction in the area will be subject to its strict planning conditions. A council source said: "Listed buildings may have to be demolished, but the planning restrictions won't be any less onerous."

Martin Hulse, director at Edinburgh's civic trust, the Cockburn Association, said he would recommend that a balance be struck between new build and the reinstatement of historic structures.

Hulse said: "There is a school of thought that says the site should be rebuilt completely with new designs, but there are buildings on the site that are of historic importance so pictures of the shells of the buildings are now being taken so that they can be rebuilt to the same designs."

Officials from Edinburgh council's planning and building control departments were this week taking digital photographs of the site, as was the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. This will help decide whether further demolition work is necessary and what materials will be needed in the rebuilding process.

Scottish Building Federation secretary Bill Goddall, who lives in Edinburgh, said the fire was a tragedy for the city: "The street and buildings gutted by the fire were of great importance historically. It is an absolute shame this has happened," he said

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