Future of landmark Invergordon Town Hall in the balance with possible sale on the cards as Highland Council mulls over options
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The blunt assessment of Highland Council is that Invergordon Town Hall should be sold on before it is too late to repair because it has been unable to generate enough cash to save it from itself.
All efforts including extensive work by the Invergordon Development Trust (IDT) which sought to take over the Category B listed building that was built in 1871 came to nothing.
A recent consultation on the future of the town hall recorded zero response from the public and now it is recommended that it is leased out or sold on before it deteriorates any further.
But even that is a tall order because according to the council the renovation and restoration costs were “likely to exceed several hundred thousand pounds” and greatly diminish the value of the property.
However, it is now thought that it is best to try to find a buyer or anchor tenant willing to invest in the property in a bid to essentially save it from getting any worse despite being the only Common Good property identified in Invergordon.
Sara Murdoch, Common Good Fund Officer, said: “The income earned in respect of the current lease arrangement falls far short of the funds required to be expended upon the property to bring it up to an adequate state of repair.
“All efforts to increase usage or source funding over a number of years have proved unsuccessful. A community proposal to develop the asset was also unsuccessful. A decision on the future of the building must be taken before it deteriorates further
“The proposal met with strong opposition and resulted in the formation of the Invergordon Development Trust (IDT) which expressed a wish to take over the Town Hall.
“Ross & Cromarty Area Committee decided that the proposal should not go ahead, and that IDT should be allowed time to formulate business plans and explore funding potential.
“In the period since the last consultation ended, every business case put forward has been exhausted with little progress. It was recognised that it would not be possible to sustain the building with community and minor business use only and that an anchor tenant would be needed.
“After careful consideration, IDT have confirmed that it is not in a position to formulate an appropriate business model such as would allow them to take on the Town Hall.
“The position was monitored on an ongoing basis at Area Committee meetings. On February 17, the Easter Ross Area Committee received the latest update including the confirmation on behalf of IDT that they were not in a position to proceed.
“Committee was informed that the renovation and restoration costs were likely to exceed several hundred thousand pounds. As a result, Area Committee decided that the only way to seek to preserve the building would be to, again, seek to offer it on the open market for sale or long term lease.”