Heritage rotting away – the council’s historic buildings at risk

At least three of the buildings left to stand empty by Argyll and Bute Council are historic and listed as being ‘at risk’.

Castle Lodge Gate House in Dunoon, the former Rothesay Academy on Bute and Kilmory Home Farm, which is near to the council’s headquarters outside Lochgilphead, are all B-listed, meaning they are of regional importance, and included on the Buildings at Risk Register which is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

Ironically, the council itself has a key role in ensuring those who listed buildings look after them properly.

Its own policies on maintaining historic buildings advise owners to ‘Spend now, save later’ and regularly set aside funds for repairs, but the evidence of the council taking such an approach itself is limited.

Castle Lodge Gate House, Dunoon

Described by the Buildings at Risk register as mid-19th century ‘Gothick’, in 2009 inspectors found: “This prominent building is on the cusp of deteriorating rapidly, action now would save major expenditure later.”

In January 2016 a member of the public raised the condition of the building at a council meeting, and council leader Dick Walsh is reported as saying: “that works on the site would commence soon and once the works were completed then options for the purpose of the building would be looked into.”

There has been no work since then and the condition of the building has visibly declined, while it was apparently not listed as empty or disused by the council.

This week a council spokesperson said: “A contract has been awarded to undertake an external upgrade of the Castle Lodge Gate House building in Dunoon and work is due to start on June 5 and be completed by the end of July.”

Former Rothesay Academy

Described as a ‘very fine modernist building’ by the Historic Environment Scotland register, in 2012 inspectors found ‘ the site remains disused with condition deteriorating significantly’.

In 2015 it was included in a list of ‘unsightly buildings’ drawn up by council officials for the Bute and Cowal area committee, despite this the council did not include it on in any responses to this website.

The 2015 report said its condition was being monitored and it was still being marketed for sale.

Kilmory Home Farm

This building, which may date back to 1816, was part of an estate bought by the then Argyll and Bute District Council in 1975 and is close to the current council headquarters.

In October 2009 inspectors found: “farm buildings are now in an advance state of decay. Vandalism is making the potential restoration of the property a diminishing prospect and the heavy vegetation growth around the site may even worsen the decay. Dangerous building notices have been erected around the site.”

See also these linked stories:

The nine-month Freedom of Information battle

Revealed: the buildings worth £3m that are standing empty

Yours for £1 – or less: Mapping the empty property owned by our council

Opinion: Our heritage in decay

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  2. Council’s empty buildings make the agenda after revelations of neglect – The Lochside Press

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