Call for action over crumbling Crieff hotel

© SuppliedThe derelict Strathearn Hotel in Crieff
The derelict Strathearn Hotel in Crieff

A taskforce set up to breathe life into vacant Scottish buildings is being urged to take action on two crumbling hotels that are “blocking regeneration” in a Perthshire town.

Fears are growing for the state of the derelict Strathearn Hotel in Crieff, after the company which owned it crashed.

Xenon Developments was dissolved after its director, Angus Conservative councillor Derek Wann, resigned. Three years earlier, Mr Wann had revealed a million-pound-plan to turn the eyesore building into housing.

The title has now been transferred to the Crown and the building’s future has been left in limbo. The Crown is now considering a request by Xenon to have the company restored, which would allow it to reclaim the title.

The situation mirrors that of Crieff’s historic Drummond Arms, which is also sitting vacant in the town centre.

Ailsa Campbell, who chairs the Crieff Community Trust, said there is now an urgent need to tear down or restore the Strathearn Hotel building after children were seen playing inside.

She hopes that a new derelict land taskforce, set up by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Land Commission, can intervene.

“This is the exact same thing that happened with the Drummond Arms two years ago,” she said.

“The Drummond Arms’ title slipped to the crown because the owning company was dissolved.

“The Crieff Community Trust has been trying since 2011 to do something about the Drummond, and we contacted the Crown with all the evidence of why the title should not be given back to this property owner who had let it decay and become dangerous.

“But the Crown didn’t help us at all. It told the property owner that if his company was restored he could get the title back.

“And now the same thing is happening with the Strathearn. Crieff has two major buildings that people want to do things with, but that regeneration is being blocked by the developers and the Crown.”

She has approached chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission, Hamish Trench, about a new partnership that aims to bring thousands of acres of derelict land back into use.

“He seemed really interested in our situation,” she said. “It was very encouraging and I really hope they can help us out.”

Ms Campbell, whose bakery business is next door to the Strathearn, said: “The other avenue would be – if the developers’ companies are restored – Perth and Kinross Council can put in a compulsory purchase bid. But I think that’s risky and could take a very long time.”

Mr Wann insisted that he resigned as director at Xenon Developments before the firm was dissolved.

“I am confident that Perth and Kinross Council can confirm that they are in close contact with the owner of the building and any concerns of public safety are addressed by return,” he said.

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: “The QLTR (Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer) received an application to restore Xenon Developments Ltd to the Register of Companies. As restoration will remove the Crown interest, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said the building was assessed and has been “correctly secured against entry.”

She said it does not pose any “immediate” risk to the public.