Crunch meeting will decide future of Keith Institute

The future of one of Moray’s most important community buildings looks set to be decided at a crunch meeting to be held next week.

Five options that could breathe new life into the Institute on Keith’s Mid Street have been published in a 49-page report.

The report was formed from views expressed during a community consultation exercise that revealed widespread support for development of the Institute, however, unless there is a genuine commitment to take the ideas forward any plans for community ownership of the building would need to be abandoned.

Architects LDN were commissioned by the Keith and Strathisla Regeneration Partnership (KSRP) to undertake a feasibility study. That has shown community support for developing a multi-use building.

This would consist of shops, a café, library, visitor centre, museum and a function hall – ideas that emerged from the consultation for a building that has lain empty since Moray Council relocated staff and operations to the Keith Resource Centre.

KSRP Chair Valery Dickson said: “We know that people feel strongly about seeing new uses for the Institute, and while we have had a lot of good ideas, no one has come forward and said they would like to get involved.

“For this project to go ahead it needs people who have a community or business interest to get behind it and take it forward. Although we commissioned the report, this is not something that KSRP will be leading on, although we would be happy to provide appropriate support.

“Without people willing to get behind this, we cannot proceeding with this; if people do not come to our meeting we will draw the conclusion that there is not the interest to keep the place going.

“We sincerely hope that is not the case and that we can find a fitting new use for this iconic building which is part of the heritage of the town.”

A public meeting has now been called at the Ugie House Hotel in Keith on Monday, March 30 at 7.30pm where Peter McIlhenny of LDN Architects will answer any questions on the report. Also attending will be a representative of Moray Council’s property section.

The meeting will also discuss future spending priorities for KSRP. Meanwhile the consultation report is available on the home page of the website.

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