SNP group leader expresses his dismay as Keith landmark dumped

Keith Institute
Keith Institute

A LANDMARK MORAY building was officially declared as being surplus to requirements by the Moray Council yesterday and new owners will now be sought.

The Institute building on Keith’s Mid Street has no strategic operational use – while Councillors attending the policy and resources committee were also told that no community interest had been expressed to take it over.

Plans to spend £166,000 on repairs to make it a more attractive proposition for potential future use have now been abandoned. The Institute – which had housed council offices for many years – was closed in 2012 because of its deteriorating condition.

Efforts were made along with the Keith and Strathisla Regeneration Partnership to find a use for the building and last year the possibility emerged of £90,000 of funding being made available from the Keith conservation area regeneration scheme, with Moray Council meeting the balance of £76,000.

However, the offer of £90,000 was withdrawn when the proposal was referred to Historic Environment Scotland which concluded that the investment could not be justified in view of the fact that no long-term use had been identified for the building.

During Tuesday’s meeting local councillor Gary Coull expressed his disappointment at the situation and sought assurances that the internals of the building are cleaned up and that the local authority are truly “proactive” in their attempts to sell the property.

He said: “The Institute has suffered from a ‘death by a thousand removals’ it could be said, as each service was moved out of the building making it less and less valuable. The lack of maintenance has not helped that situation either, but we are where we are.

“The costs [in repairs] are obviously a barrier to any community use or public sector use, but I think it is quite frankly ridiculous that Historic Scotland refused to give a grant towards what is a listed building, it ticked all the boxes. There is no real commitment from the community to form a group to take on the building.”

It was agreed that any repairs would only be undertaken to keep the building safe and wind and water tight and that it would be actively marketed and that the council would consider all potential options for its future.