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Lochside days numbered: We can reveal when Forfar’s costly old leisure centre will go

The demolition schedule for Lochside leisure centre has been set.
The demolition schedule for Lochside leisure centre has been set.

The clock is ticking to bring an end to Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre saga.

And we can reveal the demolition job will begin within months.

It’s emerged Angus Council has cleared its final legal hurdle before knocking down the 47-year-old centre at Forfar Loch Country Park.

The Court of Session has granted a petition lodged by the authority seeking permission to bulldoze the building.

The council had to go back to the court after suffering defeat in a landmark legal case brought by two town businessmen.

Mark Guild and Donald Stewart said they wanted to see the centre saved.

Lochside leisure centre
Mark Guild (left) and Donald Stewart launched a Court of Session action against Angus Council. Pic: Dougie Nicolson/DCT Media.

They argued the centre has decades of life left in it and said the authority hadn’t properly consulted on Lochside’s future.

And the nation’s highest civil court ruled in their favour.

Angus Council backed down from appealing the outcome in the Supreme Court.

Councillors decided it wasn’t worth the financial risk.

The Court of Session ruling led to a formal consultation under community empowerment rules.

But late last year, councillors finally voted for demolition after no-one came forward with a plan to lease Lochside.

There was a glimmer of hope a town sports trust would take over the centre, but it backed down at the eleventh hour.

It signalled the end of the road for the centre and the generations of sports fans who used it.

In 2013, Lochside even grabbed the headlines when Hollywood came calling for a five-a-side kickabout.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and her then husband, film director Tim Burton, surprised staff when they dropped in during a New Year stay with the Earl of Airlie. 

Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter and then husband Tim Burton played 5-a-side at Lochside on a 2013 New Year visit to Angus. Pic: David Jensen/PA Wire

What now?

The bulldozers are due to move in at the end of the summer.

The council said: “Following the Court of Session granting authority to demolish the Lochside Leisure Centre on April 13, tenders are now being prepared to demolish the centre as per the council decision of December 2021.

“It is anticipated that the works will commence in September 2022.”

There is £423,500 set aside in the council’s capital plan for the demolition.

Lochside leisure centre
Lochside has been frequently targeted by vandals. Pic: Dougie Nicolson/DCT Media.

But from this week there has been a significant change in the financial ramifications of the five-year saga.

Because of the court decision, ongoing outlays will be paid from Forfar common good fund.

Those include non-domestic rates and any urgent works that might be needed to keep it secure.

Since its closure in 2017 when the centre was replaced by new facilities at Forfar community campus, Lochside has cost the council around £1,000 a week.

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