New homes have gone on the market in a milestone stage of the £100 million redevelopment of the former Sunnyside Royal Hospital near Montrose.
The latest chapter in a 10-year project that will bring 450 new homes to the Hillside site includes an announcement of community hub plans led by an award-winning local charity.
The hospital site was purchased from NHS Tayside in 2016.
Work began in earnest on the site of the 240-year-old establishment three years’ later.
In addition to 50 homes coming to market in The Woods and The Orchard parts of the estate, a new show home has now opened.
The Woods features new-build four and five-bedroom family homes set in mature woodlands.
The centrepiece Grade-A main hospital building is being refurbished into luxury apartments and townhouses as Sunnyside Mansion.
A number of young families have already moved into The Orchard development of two-bedroom bungalows and three-bedroom detached and semi-detached villas.
Around 50 to 70 people are employed directly on site.
They include eight trade apprentices, with two management/surveying students and six management staff.
Trade apprentices are working through Pert Bruce and the Dundee and Angus Shared Apprentice Scheme, of which Pert Bruce was one of the founding partners.
Community hub for all
The community hub is being developed by Montrose Community Trust (MCT), an award-winning charity that uses sport to change lives and communities.
The project will see an important part of the historic main building – which included the cafeteria and recreation hall – returned to its original role of supporting the physical and emotional well-being of those living on its doorstep, as well as in neighbouring communities.
MCT seeks to tackle key issues in the community, supporting the unemployed and those living with a disability.
It also helps people recovering from an addiction, living in isolation, facing food insecurity or living with dementia.
Throughout the pandemic, MCT has provided lifeline services to the local community.
David Stewart of Sunnyside Estates said: “As a local company we are bringing forward high-quality residential development, transforming this site and ensuring that it will once again be prominent in the local community.
“The workforce on site is predominantly local – we are trying to keep the nucleus of sub-contractors that we have a good working relationship with.
“Covid has brought its challenges, as it has for everyone else.
“But we are seeing positivity around the release of the new homes and quite a good conversion ratio.”
The company is also looking at developing a 4,500 square foot retail unit in the site’s south west corner, to serve both the estate and the village.
Mr Stewart added: “In order to achieve these ambitions we have worked closely with the local community, including the likes of Montrose Community Trust and council, developing proposals that maintain the history and heritage of the former hospital and preserve and enhance the natural environment.
Montrose Community Trust chief executive Peter Davidson said: ‘‘The estate and this building in particular remains close to the hearts of many in our community.
“It has an intriguing history and this project will seek to honour its past but also secure its future.
“Community hubs are popping up all over the country and they are needed for people’s wellbeing.
“We don’t want this to be targeted particularly at Sunnyside Estate or just Hillside, it is about delivering something for people living more rurally at risk of isolation.
“I’d also like to see it as being a base for other organisations that struggle to have their own premises.”
Among the plans are a small hydrotherapy pool to help those recovering from surgery or with conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida.
“Such a facility would also provide opportunities for the young to learn to swim, and the young at heart to maintain an active lifestyle,” Mr Davidson said.
“We’ll strive to create a hub of activity, opportunity and community spirit.’’
The community hub will operate as a subsidiary of MCT, with the search now under way to establish a committee that would ultimately become the board of the not-for-profit company.
“MCT is keen for anyone, living locally, who possesses the time, energy and expertise to support our efforts to contact the charity via email@example.com,” added Mr Davidson.
Sunnyside Estate is also working with Hillcrest Homes (Scotland) Ltd on an £11.5 million development of 94 affordable homes at the site.
The first phase of 35 units is due for completion in January 2022, with a second phase of 59 homes already under construction.
It includes the retention and extensive refurbishment of two listed buildings – the original water tower and the ward building.
The Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary was founded in 1781 by Susan Carnegie of Charleton.
Notable patients included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s father, and outsider artist Adam Christie.
Originally situated on Montrose Links, an improved asylum at Sunnyside Farm was designed by William Moffat in 1857 and became operational in 1858.
Several buildings were added around the early 1900s to house a rapidly increasing number of patients and staff.
With the introduction of the NHS, the asylum was renamed the Royal Mental Hospital of Montrose, and then again, as Sunnyside Royal Hospital, in 1962.
Sunnyside was earmarked for a phased closure by Tayside Primary Care Trust in 2002 and shut its doors in December 2011.