Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GRANT

More than 250 jobs will be cre­ated by the new own­ers of the his­toric Crich­ton Hall in Dum­fries.

The for­mer psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal is set to be trans­formed into a five-star ho­tel and spa.

The health board has an­nounced that Jed and Joanne Clark, own­ers of Fonab Cas­tle Ho­tel in Pit­lochry, are in the process of com­plet­ing the pur­chase of the 12-acre site at Glen­caple Road.

NHS chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Ace said: “We are very pleased to see Crich­ton Hall move into the hands of peo­ple with such pos­i­tive plans for its fu­ture.”

The Clarks plan to cre­ate the jobs by trans­form­ing “the mag­nif­i­cent build­ing while pro­tect­ing and preserving its many at­trac­tive fea­tures”.

In a joint state­ment, they said: “When we vis­ited Crich­ton Hall and re­viewed the full scope of op­por­tu­nity dur­ing the sale process, we could not help but be en­grossed by the many ben­e­fits a des­ti­na­tion ho­tel and spa would bring to the Dum­fries and Gal­loway re­gion.

“Whilst we to­tally recog­nised the chal­lenges we would face de­liv­er­ing a des­ti­na­tion ho­tel, we could equally iden­tify how our knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and ap­proach to his­toric build­ing restora­tions could cre­ate an­other five star ho­tel and spa equalling Fonab Cas­tle Ho­tel’s breath­tak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Com­mu­ni­ties are at the heart of what we de­velop, and it was clear to see what our in­vest­ment and strat­egy would do for the peo­ple of Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

“Since we opened Fonab Cas­tle Ho­tel in Pit­lochry dur­ing the sum­mer of 2013, we have seen year-on-year growth – the prof­its of which have been to­tally re-in­vested back into the busi­ness which have not only seen the ho­tel and spa ben­e­fit hugely from this, but have also pro­vided an ad­di­tional £4.5 mil­lion of trade into Pit­lochry town it­self.”

Crich­ton Hall opened in 1839 to be­come a world-renowned health fa­cil­ity and now serves as head­quar­ters for the NHS.

Health board chief Jeff Ace de­scribed the hall as a “very im­por­tant part of the re­gion’s ar­chi­tec­tural and cultural her­itage”.

“When we first made plans to sell the build­ing it was very im­por­tant to us that this was recog­nised and re­spected, and that the site was prop­erly cared for, with the hope that it could be de­vel­oped to its fullest po­ten­tial,” he said. “I be­lieve that Mr and Mrs Clark’s plans for Crich­ton Hall ex­ceed those am­bi­tions.

“Our staff will be sad to leave Crich­ton Hall. How­ever, many will re­main nearby at Moun­tain­hall Treat­ment Cen­tre as part of our well-ad­vanced plans to re­lo­cate by the end of Fe­bru­ary. Crich­ton Hall is a very im­por­tant site, and it will be great to wit­ness it move into the next stage of its role as a real as­set for the re­gion.” Work is ex­pected to be­gin shortly on the build­ing. Mean­while, an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple is in place for Crich­ton Royal Bowl­ing Club to con­tinue to make use of the bowl­ing green which sits within the grounds of the hall.

Pleased NHS chief Jeff Ace

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