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Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar to be demolished after years of battling to save building

Lochside Leisure Centre demolition
Lochside leisure centre has lain empty for four years.

The former Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar is to be demolished.

Angus councillors voted to raze the building to the ground, following a meeting on Thursday.

The demolition of the building brings to an end more than three years of legal wrangling, public consultations and a petition to save the 46-year-old site.

Inside the Lochside Leisure Centre building.

The local authority launched a consultation survey which ran until November 26, asking: “Do you support the proposal to demolish the former Lochside Leisure Centre and to restore the common good land to country park?”

There were 400 individual responses, with just under 70% saying they did not want it to be demolished and 30.2% agreeing that it should.

However, no one has come forward to take the building on.

Court of Session challenge

In September last year, Angus Council lost a Court of Session challenge brought by two local businessmen who wanted to see it saved for community use.

Senior judges declared the centre and the land it stands on as a common good asset.

It means that from May next year the burden around the centre falls to the Forfar Common Good Fund, including the demolition bill.

Sports hub plans for leisure centre shelved

Station Park Community Trust secured charitable status in January 2020, and had hoped to use the building as a community and sports hub, with space for small local businesses, a pop-up cinema, physiotherapy/health rooms and a café.

But these plans were abandoned in June, when the group told Angus Council it was withdrawing its interest in the empty building.

David Fairweather, leader of Angus Council, said: “This has been a long and drawn-out process and sadly having explored all possible options, the facts are that no one has come forward to make use of this building.”

Lochside Leisure Centre demolition
Angus Council leader David Fairweather.

He added: “The cost of rates and maintenance of this building is significant, as are the demolition costs so we cannot, in good conscience, leave Forfar Common Good burdened with this.”

The building has cost the council around £1,000 a week in insurance and other costs since its doors were closed.

Leisure centre costs ‘scandalous’

Mr Fairweather, who represents the Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim ward, previously said it was “absolutely scandalous” the authority was continuing to pay £1,000 for the upkeep of a building declared surplus to requirements.

The centre was replaced with the opening of Forfar Community Campus in December 2017.

Lochside Leisure Centre demolition
Forfar Community Campus.

The building will now become the financial responsibility of the Forfar Common Good Fund, along with demolition costs.

Common Good Fund money can be used for a range of projects, such as sports, education, community engagement or improvement to local services.

Forfar Loch land restored to parkland

The land the centre sits on, next to Forfar Loch and Lochside Caravan Park, will be restored to parkland.

The council must now seek consent from the Court of Session to go ahead with the demolition.

Lochside Leisure Centre demolition
The former Lochside Leisure Centre was previously put up for let by Angus Council.

The building is reported to have deteriorated significantly inside since closing and being replaced by the multi-million-pound community campus.

The Kirriemuir Road campus boasts two swimming pools, games halls, a gymnasium, fitness suite, squash courts and outdoor grass pitches.

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