Leisure centre saved from demolition after court fight

The battle over Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar has been rumbling on for 18 months.

Leisure centre saved from demolition after court fight Google 2020
Lochside Leisure Centre: The disused building has been saved from demolition.

A disused Angus leisure centre has been saved from demolition after the highest court in the country ruled the public should be consulted first.

The battle of David and Goliath proportions over Lochside Leisure Centre (LLC) in Forfar has been rumbling on for 18 months.

In February, Lady Carmichael upheld Angus Council’s decision to demolish the 45-year-old building, which sits on common good land at a cost of £500,000.

Appeal judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh have now ruled in favour of the case brought by two local businessmen.

Housing developer Mark Guild and hotelier Donald Stewart want to save the facility for community use.

Lord Carloway and Lord Menzies sided with the businessmen, while the third judge Lord Malcolm took the view of the local authority that the centre should be excluded from the Common Good of Forfar but not the land it sits on overlooking Forfar Loch.

Mr Guild and Mr Stewart said: “All we ever wanted to do was to help save this important facility for the community, save the public purse £500,000, and save the LLC building which, in Angus Council’s own words, is of significant value.

“We only started the court action as it was the last remaining option. Angus Council were offered many opportunities to halt the action and genuinely consult the public. They refused on all occasions.

“Three-and-a-half years on, many sleepless night later, and with over £100,000 spent in the Court of Session, important questions remain unanswered.”

Mr Guild and Mr Stewart previously challenged the council’s view that the centre is sinking, producing engineering reports suggesting it has 30 years of life left in it.

They now want answers as to why the local authority said the building was sinking when they believe it was not and why it refused to consult the public before coming to the decision to demolish the building.

The pair are now calling for an independent audit to look into Angus Council’s handling of the decision over the sports centre.

Lochside Leisure Centre closed in February 2017 when the new Forfar Community Campus was opened.

Angus Council has been contacted for comment.