Community groups have reacted with fury after learning Perth and Kinross Council sold the site of a former primary school to developers for £1.
A Freedom of Information request revealed the local authority carried out the deal on the site of the former Hill Primary School in Blairgowrie with developer Corryard.
However, the revelation has been met with “shock” and “dismay” by both the Ericht Trust, who had wanted to embark on a multi-million pound redevelopment of the former school, and members of Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Council.
Ian Richards, vice-chairman of the community council, said: “Having been knocked back by the decision in 2015 to reject the very well prepared and funded offer to purchase the former school by the Ericht Trust, we now learn that the council accepted an offer of £1 from Corryard almost two years later.
“BRCC will avoid the general expressions of anger that many will feel appropriate at this stage but there is a lot of angst out there. We will instead wait for more information that must surely now be forthcoming to shed more light on this whole sad affair, before commenting further.
“In the meantime, we give our full support to the Ericht Trust and will continue to support its trustees in whatever actions they may deem appropriate. You can’t go back in time but it seems there was a lack of transparency by the council regarding this.”
The Ericht Trust has also slammed the decision to sell the site for such a nominal fee. They had planned to create a heritage and cultural centre, complete with a state-of-the-art cinema and café.
A statement said: “The trustees of the Ericht Trust are shocked and dismayed to discover that the Hill Primary School site had been sold to a commercial property developer for the sum of £1.
The bid from the Ericht Trust would have incurred additional costs to the council, and this impacted on the overall value of their bid.
“The trust had spent four years developing a feasible and sustainable business plan to convert the site into a vibrant and much needed community hub for residents, visitors and to help local employment.
“Further detailed information has been requested regarding the decision process by the council about the sale of the school.”
However, a spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said the decision was made following “expert advice” from the property management firm contracted for the site.
“The advice provided to the council was that, despite the nominal purchase price, this offer in its entirety represented best value,” she said.
“The bid from the Ericht Trust would have incurred additional costs to the council, and this impacted on the overall value of their bid.”
Corryard intend to build 17 apartments at the site, along with one new-build house.
The developers aim to have the first phase of work completed by next summer.
The second phase of the work, which will see the conversion of the original Victorian building in Blairgowrie’s Upper Allan Street, will take another six months to finish.