Keith Institute set to be abandoned as no takers found

Council to abandon Keith Institute?
Council to abandon Keith Institute?

THE KEITH INSTITUTE looks set to be abandoned with only basic maintenance work being undertaken to protect the building from wind and rain being undertaken.

Three years after the building was last used, Moray Council are set to give up on being immediately able to either pass the building to the community or find a use of their own for the property.

A paper being put before members of the policy and resources committee tomorrow will seek approval on formally declaring the Institute building as having “no strategic operational use” and recognising that there is no community interest in the building.

Property Resources Manager, Eddie Milne, reports that the building, which was previously used as official accommodation by Moray Council, is no longer required. Work had been undertaken with local councillors and the Keith and Strathisla Regeneration Partnership (KSRP) to find a use for the building, but after a year there has been no community interest shown.

This, according to the report, is largely because of the extent and cost of repairs that are a required to the building both internally and externally.

At a meeting last year, councillors heard that the costs of repairs stood at around £166,000. Funding was expected from the Keith Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme that led to initial approval of £90,000 towards repairs with the balance met by the Council, however, the conservation scheme offer was subsequently withdrawn after their failure to attract funding from Historic Scotland.

Commenting on future actions affecting the Institute building, Mr Milne reports: “Keith Institute is held on the Keith Common Good Account. In these circumstances, the Council can seek the consent of the court to dispose of an inalienable asset.

“Alternatively, it can choose to dispose of the asset without court consent. Any decision to dispose without consent will normally be considered an ultra vires act and will be open to challenge. If a decision is made to proceed with a disposal without court consent, the risk of challenge could be minimised by ensuring that public consultation is carried out.

“The building has been empty now for over three years. There has been some community interest but not enough to enable a CAT [community asset transfer] to be considered. It is therefore recommended that the building should now be declared as surplus and all potential options for disposal be considered.”