Council’s empty buildings make the agenda after revelations of neglect

'Dilapidation' among reasons why interest is low in £1.2m Blairvadach

Empty buildings owned by Argyll and Bute have appeared on a council agenda, days after this website revealed the £3m scandal.

In an unusual move, councillors will be updated next week on 11 sites across Argyll and Bute – oddly the former school and community centre in Kilcreggan is not mentioned in the 1,700-word report.

The former Rainbow Centre in Kilcreggan is not included in the council officials’ list
The report says there has been ‘relatively low’ interest in Blairvadach, the listed building in Shandon which the council says is worth £1.2m – partly because of its dilapidated condition.

Reasons for this are said to include:

  • High development costs associated with topography and listed building
  • West Dunbartonshire unit proximity
  • Requirement for 25% affordable housing
  • the main housebuilders already have more deliverable sites in Helensburgh and Lomond.
  • Uncertainty over the future of the naval base
  • Falling house prices in the area

Except perhaps for the last two, all these factors would have applied before the council decided to move its headquarters to Helensburgh and try for a second time to sell Blairvadach.

The report adds: “Recently, an offer has been made by one organisation for a joint venture structure to deliver housing over a number of years – so not an outright sale where a capital receipt would be obtained immediately.

“Officers are currently assessing this offer, due to its relative complexity, risk/reward projections and seeking to negotiate the best terms possible. Officers have also been in direct dialogue with the Royal Navy to confirm future demand or alternative ways to deliver housing on the site.”

The report also states that off licence and delicatessen chain Peckham’s has made an offer for the former Municipal Buildings in Helensburgh, subject to a liquor licence and planning permission.

Other buildings listed include:

  • Units 1 and 2, Ferry Road, Rosneath – both said to be under offer, with settlement hoped for within four weeks
  • 52 and 52A Sinclair Street, Helensburgh – said to be under offer for lease to Gordon’s pharmacy
  • Scotcourt House, Helensburgh – said to be under offer with a successful bid from a local business delayed by water ingress after storms
  • Former Marriage Rooms, West King Street , Helensburgh – said to be under offer, with a successful offer having been made by Joan’s Carers, but this has been delayed y planning inquiries relating to proposed use of the building. The report says council officials are keen to complete the sale within eight weeks.

For more on the battle to uncover the empty buildings owned by the council, see these related stories:

The nine-month Freedom of Information battle

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

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

Opinion: Our heritage in decay

The council report, which will be discussed at the Helensburgh nd Lomond area committee next week, is here: Property Update