Angus Council is to progress with plans to demolish Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar and reinstate the common good land it sits upon on back to parkland for the local community as agreed at Full Council of 7 February.
Plans in 2013 were agreed to build a new state-of-the-art campus in Forfar that exceeded the facilities at Lochside and rendered them redundant. The building, which has suffered subsidence and had various remedial works carried out on it through its existence, was subsequently declared surplus to requirements in May last year. The demolition costs are accounted for in the council’s current budget. Since its closure nearly two years ago, there has been no developed community interest in the property.
Recently, an offer was received for the purchase of the building, two car parks, outbuildings and tennis courts. The offer cannot be accepted as a separate community asset transfer request has been made for the tennis court area, which needs to be considered first to comply with legislation. A special meeting of Angus Council on 7 February considered the options for the building and re-confirmed the decision to progress with demolition.
Leader of the Administration, Cllr David Fairweather said: “We believe there is tremendous value for the community in turning this area of common good land back to grass as part of the country park for the common good of the people of Forfar. It is their land and we are pleased that they will be free to use and enjoy it.
“Were we to go down a different route and sell off a valuable public space, it would require a change of use from common good land. A period of consultation would be needed in terms of the community empowerment legislation and there would be a risk that lengthy and costly court proceedings would be required in accordance with Section 75 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. That process will come at the expense of the common good purse and if it fails and the judge decides that it cannot be sold, that would be significantly out of pocket.
“I believe that once the building is removed and the grounds landscaped, the area should remain for the common good rather than being sold for private ownership so that it can be enjoyed by the people who currently use the parkland at Lochside and many more besides.”