Court House News
DACIC withdraw from Community Right to Buy
The Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) explained to a well attended public meeting, to discuss the future of the Dornoch Court Building on Wednesday 6th November night, of their decision to withdraw from the Community Right to Buy.
The last two months have been spent researching different options and funding streams for the building. Consultants have reported on the condition of the building, putting a £770k price tag on the outstanding maintenance and conservation work required over a 5 year period, and a £395k cost of converting offices to 6 en-suite bedrooms, for student accommodation in term time and golfers in the summer.
The time that would be necessary to develop funding bids for this work is way beyond the six month window provided by the Right to Buy legislation.
On a positive note the independent valuation of £115k may well attract a private business and Scottish Court Service will now put this to the test.
However DACIC will continue to pursue funding and if in a year's time the Court building is still for sale, the community may be in a better position to proceed with a sustainable, funded business plan.
The DACIC board was questioned on the high costs on what was considered to be a well maintained building. They explained that these were from a conservation architect and that funding by Historic Scotland or Heritage Lottery would require this standard of detail to preserve the building. Paul Hart said that they had experience in converting two listed buildings (The Eagle Hotel & Bank House) and felt that a more challenging position could be adopted with planning and conservation. DACIC felt that this may well be the case for a private business, but a community body was more restricted in its options - for example a restaurant or cafe would be displacing other businesses in the town, whereas the provision of additional student accommodation and tourist bed nights was meeting a shortfall. The meeting thanked DACIC for its efforts and endorsed their decision to withdraw.
Click here for the information sheet distributed at the meeting.
Public Meeting -Wednesday 6th Novmeber - 8pm - WEST CHURCH HALL
The next stage in the Community Right to Buy is the report by the Valuer, appointed by the Scottish Government, which will be published on Friday 1st November. DACIC invite you to a public meeting the following Wednesday to hear of the research they have carried out to date and the purchase figure now requested.
At that time if there is a financially sustainable business plan this would be put to a ballot of all those on the electoral roll in IV25 between 16th and 26th November. The ballot results would have to show majority support on a minimum 50% turnout for the Government to approve the buy out. Their decision would be known by 20 December. The buy out would be subject to securing the necessary funding which would need to be in place by 19th March 2014.
On 19th September, Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) informed Scottish Ministers that it will proceed with an attempt to buy the soon to be redundant Sheriff Court House in Dornoch’s Square.
Scottish Court Services intend to abandon the building on November 30th leaving the community much concerned about the future of this prominent and important building right in the heart of the town.
DACIC Chair, Jenifer Cameron said, “We are anxious to ensure that the Court House be maintained and used for the long term. It would be a disaster for Dornoch if it was allowed to fall into disrepair. So, we feel that we must, at this stage, inform Scottish Ministers of our hope to buy the building and save it for the community.”
The Community Right to Buy process will now move into its next stage which involves Scottish Ministers appointing a valuer who will have six weeks in which to report back on the commercial value of the building.
Jenifer Cameron said, “It seems utterly crazy that we have to announce our plan to buy before we know what the cost will be but that is what the legislation dictates. Obviously when we know what the cost will be, we will consider whether or not we can proceed or may have to drop out at that stage.”
A feasibility study is being conducted on the options under consideration for future use of the building. DACIC stresses that it can only take the building on if plans are financially viable and sustainable. The group is keen to hear from any private entrepreneur who might have an interest in the building’s future and would be glad to consider any proposal which might come forward.
Valuation is the next stage in the process and it would be followed by a public ballot in the Dornoch area if DACIC continues with its bid.
The building currently houses the Highland Council Service Point and the Tourist Information Centre, which DACIC wish to retain. Other options being considered are to rent offices to businesses in this prestigious B listed building. There are four offices upstairs, two either side of the Court Room. Downstairs there is a suite of three offices, a single office and a potential exhibition space. The Court Room will need to be retained significantly unchanged, to allow its important heritage to be shared by future generations. However it would make an ideal venue for civil wedding ceremonies, civic functions and lectures.
DACIC would be pleased to hear from businesses interested in the accommodation. Please contract Joan Bishop, Secretary email
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