A plan to ditch Forfar’s creaking police HQ for a council office share on the edge of town could be dead in the water after the authority agreed to put the for sale sign up on the target building.
St Margaret’s House on the council’s Orchardbank business park campus had been identified by local police top brass as the preferred option for a move from the 50-year-old West High Street base, which has been branded not fit for purpose.
Police Scotland faces annual running costs of £200,000 and a repair bill of around £1.5 million to bring the sprawling headquarters up to scratch.
There are major concerns around the state of its roof, which at the height of Storm Frank’s 2015 deluge, saw 100 litres of water being pumped from the basement every ten minutes.
At that time, Tayside divisional commander Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd said the “traditions of a big, monolithic police station within the centre of a town with officers working from it to the exclusion of anything else that’s happening has probably had its day.”
The council campus plan was then discussed at Forfar community council meeting in January and former Angus area commander Chief Inspector David McIntosh identified St Margaret’s House as the only suitable building available to fit the needs of the force.
He highlighted the benefits which would come from police being close to partner services including adult and child protection, the health and social care partnership and social work.
The officer also gave assurances the force would look at options to maintain a town centre presence through drop-in sessions and surgeries and look to review bus services and the provision of a centrally-located telephone link.
Both St Margaret’s House and William Wallace House were removed from the authority’s list of properties surplus to operational requirements to explore opportunities for new income generation.
William Wallace House has been let but despite some interest, efforts to let St Margaret’s House have been unsuccessful and councillors have now agreed to offer it for sale.
“Each month the property remains vacant, costs in excess of £4,000 are incurred in business rates alone,” said Angus infrastructure director Ian Cochrane.
“In order to allow marketing flexibility and ensure the best outcome for the council, it is recommended St Margaret’s House be declared surplus to requirements and marketed for sale as well as rent.”