Work starts on new council offices
WORK is due to start this week on new Fort William council offices.
The former secondary school building on Achintore Road is to replace the current council headquarters in the town centre, saving the council more than £ 375,000 a year.
A Highland Council spokesperson confirmed that contractors Robertson Northern would be starting renovations this week.
Speaking to The Oban Times, Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Thomas MacLennan said: ‘Anything that saves the council money is a positive thing. That building has been an eyesore for 40 years. It’s time something was done.’
Sue Keen, Fort William Town Team secretary, said: ‘The refurbishment will bring the building back to life.’
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Brian Murphy agreed. ‘I am pleased to see work starting,’ he said, ‘as it has been an eyesore for many years.’
There has been some controversy over the design of the new extension.
Mr Murphy said: ‘ From the road, the building will look fine, but I wasn’t too happy about the design of the extension. The design team should have given more weight to what local people had to say about the extension.’
But Councillor MacLennan claimed: ‘The vast majority of people I have spoken to are happy about this eyesore at the gateway to town being taken away.’
A Highland Council spokesperson said: ‘ Historic Environment Scotland approved the design with the modern traditional split. A public exhibition last year brought some very positive comments from the public with the vast majority being very supportive of the council’s proposals to bring the grade B listed historic building back into use.’
It has been confirmed the existing council buildings will be turned into flats. The council spokesperson said: ‘There is a £2.9 million development of Tweedale in the town centre to provide 22 housing flats for council rent by 2017.’
Commenting on the new flats, Mrs Keen said: ‘This development will mean more housing for people in the centre of town, close to all amenities.’