Dereliction of duty? MoD paid £180,000 for an historic building three years ago – it’s still standing empty

It is not clear why the MoD has bought the South Lodge.

An historic building bought by the Ministry of Defence over three years ago is still standing empty, with no indication of what it might be used for.

The B-listed South Lodge of West Shandon House was bought in July 2014 for £180,000 by the MoD ‘to protect the building’.

Just across the A814 is the former St Andrews School, also B-listed and owned by the MoD, which has been empty for many years – it is said to have been vandalised and is classed as ‘high risk’ by Historic Scotland.

An MoD representative was asked about the purchase of the South Lodge by Rhu and Shandon community councillors back in 2015, and said it had been bought to ensure it was properly protected.

But it is still empty and this week a spokesperson for HM Naval Base Clyde said: “The MoD is continuing to evaluate options for the sites in question.

“While the evaluation is ongoing the buildings continue to be appropriately managed in order to ensure that they are protected from weather damage.”

Two years ago the MoD was asked why the lodge had been bought and because it was so close to the base’s south gate it ‘will be a useful addition to the estate footprint’.

He added: “The building will be appropriately managed and maintained and there are a number of options being considered for its future use.”

These options have now been considered for more than two years, and the usefulness of this addition to the defence estate, bought with £180,000 of taxpayers’ money, is less than apparent.

The South Lodge was designed by J T Rochead, who also designed the Wallace monument near Stirling and the nearby Blairvadach building, now one of the properties worth £3m owned by Argyll and Bute Council which are standing empty.

The former St Andrews School has been empty for many years.

The former St Andrews School has suffered from vandalism and ‘incursions’ with ‘temporary structures’ erected, an MoD representative admitted to Rhu and Shandon Community Council last year.

The meeting also heard that graffiti had been sprayed and vandals had attacked the building, which is B-listed and was designed by Glasgow architect Charles Wilson and originally called Shandon House.

Nine years ago planners said it had extensive areas of both wet and dry rot, falling lintels and falling plasterwork.

The Buildings at Risk register adds: “External inspection finds the building remains vacant and in deteriorating condition; whilst the building looks fair from a distance, closer inspection reveals many defects.”

Five years earlier an MoD spokesman was quoted as saying of St Andrews School: “The B-listed building has been extensively vandalised over a period of years, and presents a health and safety risk, and may require to be demolished.”