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Legal wheels set in motion to finally bulldoze Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre

Court papers have been lodged for the planned demolition of Lochside leisure centre. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/Michael McCosh/DCT Media.
Court papers have been lodged for the planned demolition of Lochside leisure centre. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/Michael McCosh/DCT Media.

Angus Council has launched the final stage of the legal process to bring down Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre.

Three months after councillors finally agreed to knock it down, papers have been lodged in the Court of Session to get the go ahead for bulldozers to move in.

But it will still be months before the Forfar Country Park site is cleared of the building.

The 47-year-old centre has sat empty for more than five years.

Complex history

Lochside was replaced by Forfar community campus in February 2017.

And since it closed it has cost the council around £1,000 a week in insurance and other costs.

Lochside’s future became mired in controversy after Angus Council revealed a £450,000 demolition plan.

Two local businessmen challenged the proposal.

Mark Guild and Donald Stewart rejected suggestions the centre was structurally unsound.

They said it had years of life left and wanted to see it kept for community use.

Lochside leisure centre
Businessmen Mark Guild (left) and Donald Stewart fought Angus Council in the Court of Session. Pic: Dougie Nicolson/DCT Media.

The landmark case went to Scotland’s highest civil court.

In 2020, the Inner House of the Court of Session ruled the council had been wrong to agree the centre’s demolition without proper public consultation.

Councillors decided not to challenge the outcome in the Supreme Court.

Common good asset

The ruling meant the building and the ground it stands on were declared as common good.

Lochside leisure centre
Lochside leisure centre was replaced by Forfar Community Campus in 2017.

It led to a formal public consultation being carried out.

But despite initial interest from a local sports trust, no-one came forward with a proposal to save the centre.

Councillors finally agreed to demolish the building last December.

Legislation requires the council to petition the court for permission to go ahead with the demolition.

Lochside leisure centre
Inside the Lochside Leisure Centre building.

A council spokesperson said: “As no commercial or community group has come forward to take over the former Lochside leisure centre, a decision was taken at Angus Council on December 16 2021 to demolish it.

“Angus Council has now presented a petition to the Court of Session for authorisation under section 75(2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 for the appropriation and disposal of land forming part of the common good by implementing a proposal to demolish the Lochside leisure centre, Forfar and return the land to park land as part of Forfar Loch Country Park.”

What happens now?

Anyone with an interest in the matter has an opportunity to lodge answers to the petition.

Those must be submitted to the Court of Session within 21 days.

The council requires the court’s permission before pressing ahead with the demolition schedule.

No firm date has been set for the centre to be knocked down.

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