Angus councillors will outline their preferred option on the future of Lochside Leisure Centre this week.
Five options will be discussed at a full Angus Council meeting on Thursday.
Councillors will vote on their preferred option for the Forfar centre, after which further consultation will take place.
A final decision will not be made until a further report is presented on that consultation results.
The leisure centre was at the centre of a legal probe last year which ultimately saw a court declare it was wrong to consider knocking down the building.
Angus Council chose not to challenge that conclusion, citing concerns over the public purse in continuing a legal case.
This week’s vote follows online public consultation and an external review into the decision-making process by Angus Council.
The five options to go before councillors are:
- Leave the building as it currently is
- Sell the building and land it sits on
- Lease the centre and land
- Handover the site through a Community Asset Transfer (CAT)
- Demolish the building and retain the parkland
The five options have been scored against five implication categories.
- Impact on the economy
- Consultation results
- Potential financial implications
- Retention of the common good for future generations
A score has been assigned to each category, with a total weighted score then calculated.
The two options with the highest total, and therefore the lowest risk to the council, are demolition and CAT, which both scored the same.
The report to go before councillors this week states that the only budget provision set aside is for the demolition, but if councillors do not choose to tear down the building, the money set aside for that will become available for “other purposes”.
‘Win for democracy’
The local authority authorised the demolition of Lochside in February 2019, but found themselves in the Inner House of the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland, after Forfar businessmen Mark Guild and Donald Steward mounted a legal bid against the decision.
After protracted legal proceedings, Angus Council decided not to challenge a court declaration that the decision to raze the centre was wrong.
Mr Guild described the verdict as a “win for democracy”.
A public consultation was launched late last year to canvass the views of local residents.
A total of 334 people took part. The five options were put before them, with the demolition of the building being the most favoured choice, with 35.9% approving.
A CAT was the second favourite option, receiving 27.2% of the vote.
Just 1.2% of respondents said they wanted the status quo.
A probe by private firm Azets concluded that the decision to demolish Lochside Leisure Centre was “not unreasonable”.
However, Azets’ report did find three weaknesses in the decision-making process.
- Varying quality in reports which went before different committees
- The need for better documentation and communication on the decision not to proceed with an invasive structural survey of the building in October 2018
- A clearer timescale would have been “helpful” to interested parties prior to the decision to demolish the building
It was recommended that Angus Council adopt best practices in line with these issues.
The review was not carried out by Audit Scotland because the public body did not have the capacity to undertake the work until later in 2021.