A handful of possible options for the future of Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre have been laid before the local public.
The consultation forced by Angus Council’s Court of Session defeat over the fate of the empty building has been launched and will run until the end of January.
But the authority’s leader has reinforced the message the public must produce a plan to save the centre.
Lease, sale, community asset transfer and demolition are all listed as possible options.
The status quo of leaving the centre standing empty is also included in the consultation.
Court of Session ruling led to community survey
A landmark Inner House ruling designating the centre a common good asset triggered consultation under the 2015 Community Empowerment Act.
The majority decision of three of Scotland’s most senior judges followed a challenge by two Forfar businessmen over the plan to knock down the 45-year-old building.
Angus Council decided not to take the fight to the Supreme Court.
Lochside was declared surplus by the council after being replaced by Forfar community campus in 2017.
Consultation will run until end of January
Council leader David Fairweather said, “To be clear, the council is not asking citizens what they want the council to use it for, because the building has been declared surplus to Angus Council’s requirements and it has no use for it.
“The council is asking what residents think is best for this location.
“This initial consultation is looking at what people see for the future of the building, the land and who may potentially operate the building.”
To be clear, the council is not asking citizens what they want the council to use it for, because the building has been declared surplus to Angus Council’s requirements and it has no use for it.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather
Officials hope to present the survey findings to elected members in March.
As well as the online survey, the council hopes to run drop-in sessions for the public early in 2021 if Covid-19 restrictions permit.
Structural surveys available to public
Consultation information includes the council’s own surveys into the condition of the building and structural reports commissioned by housebuilder Mark Guild as part of his fight to stop the £450,000 demolition.
A council inspection in November revealed numerous areas of cracking which officials say are beyond acceptable levels.
Subsidence was an issue at Lochside throughout the centre’s history.
However, an independent structural report commissioned by Mr Guild said the building was not dangerous.
Engineers suggested the leisure centre has 30 years of life left in it.