Coun­cil ‘open to of­fers’ for con­demned cen­tre

Three dif­fer­ent par­ties have ex­pressed in­ter­est in Lochside build­ing

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM BROWN

Forfar’s Lochside leisure cen­tre could es­cape the wreck­ing ball af­ter coun­cil chiefs ad­mit­ted they are open to of­fers for the empty build­ing.

Al­most two years af­ter be­ing re­placed by a £39 mil­lion com­mu­nity cam­pus and marked for de­mo­li­tion, the eye­sore re­mains stand­ing.

It has now emerged three sep­a­rate par­ties have ex­pressed an in­ter­est in giv­ing it a new lease of life with ap­proaches to the au­thor­ity dat­ing as far back as Oc­to­ber 2017.

The coun­cil has said it plans to press ahead with the £300,000 de­struc­tion within weeks.

A lo­cal busi­ness­man hop­ing to cre­ate a cin­ema, restau­rant and tram­po­line park in the old cen­tre said his re­cent note of in­ter­est had been re­jected out­right by the coun­cil.

The cen­tre has never been of­fered for sale, but a coun­cil spokesman said: “While we have not sought any bids for the build­ing, there has been noth­ing to pre­vent any­one from mak­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate open mar­ket of­fer.”

An­gus Coun­cil has opened the door to of­fers for the trou­bled Lochside Leisure Cen­tre in Forfar.

In a re­mark­able U-turn over the pos­si­ble fu­ture for the empty fa­cil­ity, the lo­cal au­thor­ity ad­mit­ted it could ac­cept “an ap­pro­pri­ate open mar­ket of­fer”, throw­ing into ques­tion the planned £300,000 de­mo­li­tion of the build­ing.

The rev­e­la­tion came fol­low­ing in­creased pres­sure on the lo­cal au­thor­ity to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion to raze the sports cen­tre to the ground as more plans emerged for its pos­si­ble use. It closed in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

One week af­ter prop­erty de­vel­oper Mark Guild slammed the lo­cal au­thor­ity for paving the way for the build­ing’s de­mo­li­tion, an­other prom­i­nent busi­ness­man re­vealed he lodged a note of in­ter­est three weeks ago to pur­chase the build­ing.

It also emerged staff at Forfar-based An­gus Care and Re­pair met a se­nior coun­cil of­fi­cer 15 months ago to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of con­vert­ing the for­mer cen­tre into a de­men­tia-friendly fa­cil­ity, seven months be­fore the coun­cil agreed to de­mol­ish the build­ing.

Ju­dith Les­lie, ser­vice man­ager, has now urged the coun­cil to re­verse its de­ci­sion to flat­ten the build­ing.

There should have been a con­sul­ta­tion within the com­mu­nity to find out what they could do with the place

She said: “We ap­proached a se­nior of­fi­cer in the coun­cil about the pos­si­bil­ity of an as­set trans­fer of the leisure cen­tre in Oc­to­ber 2017 for us to use as of­fices up­stairs, to de­velop a de­men­tia-friendly café down­stairs and to turn at least one of the squash courts into an ex­hi­bi­tion area for adap­ta­tions and tele­care.”

Plans were drawn up but in De­cem­ber 2017 the or­gan­i­sa­tion was told the build­ing was “struc­turally un­sta­ble”.

The se­cond busi­ness­man, who did not wish to be named, re­vealed am­bi­tious plans for trans­form­ing the cen­tre into a cin­ema, in­door tram­po­line park and restau­rant. He had also hoped to re­open the nine-hole golf course ad­ja­cent to the boarded-up build­ing. He said: “It has never been put on the open mar­ket, the coun­cil took the de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish it and it’s go­ing ahead.

“They should have tested the mar­ket to see if any­one was in­ter­ested. The op­por­tu­nity is wasted, it’s too late now, the de­ci­sion has been made.

“There should have been a con­sul­ta­tion within the com­mu­nity to find out what they could do with the place.

“I put in a note of in­ter­est but was told it is be­ing de­mol­ished – end of story.”

An An­gus Coun­cil spokesman said: “While we have not sought any bids for the build­ing, there has been noth­ing to pre­vent any­one from mak­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate open mar­ket of­fer – a po­si­tion made clear to any in­ter­ested par­ties on in­quiry, along with guid­ance on the build­ing’s con­di­tion, as­so­ci­ated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and rel­e­vant leg­isla­tive pro­cesses and timescales.

“No for­mal or ac­cept­able of­fers have been re­ceived to date and, as such, we are pro­ceed­ing with agreed plans to de­mol­ish the build­ing.”

Pic­ture: Paul Reid.

The for­mer Lochside Leisure Cen­tre in Forfar.

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