DACIC withdraws from Communuty Right to Buy
At their Board meeting on November 1st, Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) reluctantly concluded that it could not proceed under the terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 with an attempt to buy the Dornoch Sherriff Court building on behalf of the local community.
DACIC’s Chair, Jenifer Cameron, said, “There just isn’t enough time in the Community right to Buy process for us to fully explore all future uses and to be comfortable that we have a financially sustainable plan for the building. The timetable is very tight and essentially we would have to ask our local community to vote on a proposal for the building’s future long before we’d know whether or not we could raise the money to implement it and we just feel we can’t do that in good conscience.”
DACIC has considered several possible uses for the building with two ideas which showed potential having been explored in some detail. The building’s Grade B listing has added the challenge of trying to adapt a historic building to a new use whilst retaining its character.
Mixed use of the building was considered most viable; one idea was based on renting offices with a little retail space and possible use as a wedding venue. Eventually it was concluded that would not be financially viable so a second option was explored, mainly based on converting rooms to bedroom accommodation which could be let to students. It is felt likely this could pay its way but the conversion costs would be very high and would involve major fundraising, a lengthy process which would far outrun the CrtB timetable.
A further blow to DACIC’s plans came in the report by Robin Kent, Conservation Architect, on the condition of the building, which included a very long list of very expensive repairs and restoration work running to many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So, at present, DACIC expects costs of around a million pounds in addition to the purchase cost. And all plans would depend on a successful planning application for change of use which may or not be possible.
Having formally withdrawn from the Community right to Buy process, DACIC has written to the building’s owners, Scottish Court Services, to explain their position. DACIC stressed that it is still interested in the building’s future and intends to continue to plan for the future by pursuing funding applications and, if possible, making a planning application for a change of use so that if no private buyer came forward DACIC would be in a position then to make an offer to buy the building.
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