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COURIER OPINION: Strathmartine Hospital lessons must be learned

The derelict Strathmartine Hospital near Dundee has been a problem site for years.
The derelict Strathmartine Hospital near Dundee has been a problem site for years.

It’s not uncommon for The Courier to be reporting on Strathmartine Hospital.

But it is unusual to be bringing positive news about the abandoned NHS property on the outskirts of Dundee.

The confirmation that more than 200 new homes, including badly-needed social housing, are set to rise from the rubble marks a welcome milestone in the saga of Strathmartine.

One of the many fires which have further devastated the Strathmartine Hospital site.

The derelict site has been a magnet for vandals since it was closed by NHS Tayside in 2003.

We have reported on countless fires there.

And the emergency services have wasted huge sums on dealing with break-ins and outbreaks.

Neighbours and politicians have also campaigned long and hard for action, amid fears intruders would come to harm.

They include local mum Gaynor Robertson.

Strathmartine campaigner Gaynor Robertson and her son Jonathan.

Her 13 year-old son Jonathan died after a fall at nearby Baldovan House, which has since been demolished.

She went on to campaign for similar action at Strathmartine to prevent another tragedy.

So while applauding the approval of the Strathmartine masterplan, it’s entirely fair for Angus councillors to demand lessons are learned.

The owners of redundant buildings have a duty to society to maintain and protect them.

They have a responsibility to actively seek a new future for them, particularly if they are in public ownership.

It is not acceptable to allow sites, such as Strathmartine, to become eyesores and even death traps, attracting hooligans and putting additional pressure on other publicly-funded bodies.

And we also need a planning system that is fit for purpose.

Local councils everywhere must ensure they provide a process that gives a fair say to developers, neighbours and other interested parties, without leading to needless costly and potentially ruinous delays.

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