A leading Angus developer has said bulldozing Forfar’s former leisure centre is a missed community opportunity as the wrecking ball is finally being readied for the Lochside building.
Local businessman Mark Guild was given survey access to the empty centre months after councillors signed its demolition death knell.
The authority has now confirmed it will be knocked down within weeks, after claims of “obfuscation” over its future, but Mr Guild believes the building could still play a positive future community role if given the chance.
The centre has been dogged by problems since it was first built due to its location on reclaimed land directly beside Forfar Loch.
But surveyors engaged by Mr Guild have said that while the building shows signs of “structural settlement” they are “not symptomatic of ongoing or progressive structural movement” and roofing experts said they believed the “vast majority” of the damage to the centre had been the result of vandalism.
Lochside was declared surplus to requirements with the opening of the showpiece Forfar community campus in February 2017.
The authority is facing a bill of around £300,000 to knock it down but local councillors have been critical of the delay in clearing the site and the building has been a regular target for vandals.
Mr Guild said: “The place is as fresh as a daisy inside, the roof could be fixed for not a lot of money and my ambition for it would be to put it to a community use. If a trust was set up it could take it on.
“It wouldn’t be for me and it wouldn’t be for Guild Homes, but it could be for the community and yet the leisure centre has never been offered for sale or community use because councillors took the decision to knock it down based on information it was sinking,” said Mr Guild.
“For the council it is also not just about bringing money in, but about saving money by not spending a big sum on knocking down things that could still have a community use.”
An Angus Council spokesman said: “A decision to demolish Lochside leisure centre was made in May 2018.
“Tender documents have now been issued to be returned by January 11 and it is anticipated demolition of the building will begin in February/March.
“Elected members were informed at the scrutiny and audit committee in November that the building had attracted a number of interested parties.
“Access was given to one of these parties for the purposes of an independent survey, following an approach that was facilitated by an elected member.
“However, no bids or offers to purchase the building have been received and we are currently progressing demolition plans as per the recommendation within Report 151/18.”