An A-listed Angus Gothic mansion which has lain on Scotland’s buildings at risk register for nearly two decades has gone under the hammer with a starting price of £1.
The Elms in Arbroath has been at the centre of repeated calls for action to save the former children’s home and one-time hotel, which has fallen into increasing dereliction since being stripped of many valuable internal features.
Built on the Angus town’s Cairnie Road by the mill-owning Corsar family in the late 1860s, the striking two-storey landmark was designed by architect William Leiper, famed for the Templeton carpet factory in Glasgow which is also known as the Doge’s Palace.
It operated as a hotel until the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the War Office, before becoming a children’s home for the World-Wide Evangelisation Crusade.
Closed at the beginning of the 1990s, it has been the subject of failed plans for residential conversion and increasing concerns about its deterioration.
In 2004, developers removed important features including stained glass windows, marble fireplaces and ornate hand-painted mahogany ceiling panels in an act branded a “public scandal” at the time. The windows alone were said to have a replacement value close to £1 million.
The Elms has been the subject of several notices issued by Angus Council, including urgent works orders aimed at protecting the fabric of the buildings.
Questions have also hung over the ownership of the property, which has changed hands several times.
A non-UK registered company was its last reported owner in 2018 and the building has now gone on sale in an online property auction.
The auction site describes the property as being in “poor” condition, but adds: “This would make a fantastic builder developer opportunity.”
A leading local councillor has said he hopes The Elms will finally find a new owner who is willing to save it.
Arbroath East and Lunan Conservative councillor Derek Wann said: “If it sells it would be great to see such a beautifully designed building brought back to life.
“After campaigning for so long to get this building on the market and to now see this being brought to auction is a huge relief to all of us in Arbroath.
“I would urge whoever purchases this to get in touch with the planners at Angus Council to discuss any potential planning applications.”