Carnoustie and Monifieth Men’s Shed members are facing a fight to hang onto their home in a tussle with Angus Council.
The thriving group will this week launch their bid to stay in the former machine room of Monifieth’s Invertay House, which has become the base of the branch in another Angus expansion of the global movement.
However, Angus Council’s housing service has ambitions to develop 35 affordable homes on the site – a move that would require councillors to knock back the community asset transfer (CAT) application and evict the group from the building.
In a report to Thursday’s policy and resources committee, finance director Ian Lorimer states that open market disposal, appropriation to the council’s housing revenue account or the CAT for part of the site are the three options elected members must consider.
The men’s shed movement began on the opposite side of the world as a means of bringing males out of social isolation and the local group is offering a £1,500 annual rent for the space.
Angus officials suggest the market rent for the area would be around £9,000.
The report states: “The council’s housing service has expressed an interest in acquiring the entire Invertay House site including the surrounding grounds and car parks with a view to this being used to provide affordable housing in the area.
“The Carnoustie and Monifieth Men’s Shed group have an existing month to month lease from the council (paying £525 p.a.) and are currently operating from the former machine room premises. The CAT application covers this facility and an additional building, lock up garages and land.
“The CAT officer group’s assessment is that the proposal is not strong enough to merit a recommendation to approve it but it is not without merit and so isn’t being recommended for outright rejection either.”
Although the housing appropriation plan would have to come forward at a future date, the report reveals the plan is to start work on the near £8 million project in 2021, with new townhouses included in the scheme to offset the cost of refurbishing the listed Invertay buildings.
Mr Lorimer adds: “Carnoustie and Monifieth Men’s Shed is a well-established group who are already operating from the premises which are the subject of the CAT.
“When viewed in isolation the CAT application has several merits in securing the premises for the group over the longer term and in many ways it is ideal for their purposes.
“Having a CAT tenant on part of the site will, however, impact on the viability and value for the remainder of the site and its ability to be developed.
“This is not to say that the proposed CAT and sale/re-use of the remaining site could not work in tandem, just that this would inevitably have negative financial implications for the council and bring a level of complexity to any sale or re-use of the site.”