The long saga of a six-figure disposal of Forfar council offices is finally at an end after Voluntary Action Angus (VAA) officially announced its arrival in the landmark building.
A sum of £250,000 can now be revealed as the price paid by the organisation for the sprawling three-storey property at The Cross, which VAA officials have said represents an “exciting” future opportunity for the wider Angus community.
The first VAA event since the sale was concluded took place on Friday as the organisation announced it is about to embark on a two-month community consultation in its effort to maximise the building’s potential.
VAA, which currently has a base in a former printworks on Forfar’s St James Road, has 14 full-time employees and a volunteer tally stretching to more than 7,000 people involved in the 100-plus social enterprises it supports.
Chairperson Bill Muir said: “As a concept being taking forward by Voluntary Action Angus to bring together many voluntary organisations under one roof, the funding transfer has now been completed and we can start the process of making something really special and innovative which will benefit people in communities.”
VAA strategic lead for economy and health, Hayley Mearns said: “This has been a big piece of work and I am really excited now that we can open this up for consultation on how best to design and lay out the building.
“We recognise its importance to the people of Angus and I am keen to ensure we use this new opportunity for maximum benefit.
“I am grateful for the support of colleagues in third sector and in Angus Council for assisting with this journey.”
She added: “A consultation period will now commence, initially from April 1 to June 1, where we hope to gather as many views as possible from third sector and community groups.
VAA emerged as the successful bidder in an open market sale of the former councillors’ accommodation, four years after pub giant J D Wetherspoon lodged an audacious out-of-the-blue private offer of £400,000.
The prospect of a secret deal prompted a claim the council was “selling off the family silver” and led to a bidding war after a local businessman made a £450,000 offer for the property, but the 9,500 sq ft building found its way onto the open market after the two deals failed to materialise.
An urgent maintenance bill running to hundreds of thousands of pounds was one of the key reasons put forward to offload the property quickly and although the council has confirmed the £250k sale price under Freedom of Information legislation, it has refused to disclose how much has been spent on upkeep and repair in the last three years.