Brechin activists refuse to give up the fight after a severe setback in their hopes for the city’s historic infirmary.
After years of working behind the scenes setting up a case to take over the vacant hospital, the Brechin Healthcare Group’s offer was turned down by NHS Tayside.
The group is now preparing an appeal against the decision.
It was met at the last meeting of the NHS board of directors and BHG was informed that the health authority has concerns about the delivery capability and sustainability of the project.
Brechin Hospital. Image: Paul Reid.
It is also said that the group’s £ 150,000 offering is too low compared to the market value of the prominent three and a half acre site.
BHG has 20 days to appeal, and the group’s chairman Grahame Lockhart said they continue to work to provide the expansive community hub in the 152-year-old building.
However, they fear that more months of delay will put a strain on the structure of the old hospital, which was declared redundant in 2018.
The CAT application was originally submitted in March 2019 and validated in January 2020.
“Disappointed is to say the least – but we may not be surprised,” said Lockhart.
“It took us so long to make this decision.
“There was the Covid pandemic, then we were asked for more information, but we were convinced from previous conversations that it looked much more positive.
“Part of the difficulty is that they haven’t given us specific reasons for the rejection so we can’t really address them.
BHG chairman Grahame Lockhart at the location of the infirmary. Image: Mhairi Edwards / DCT Media.
“The appeal will be checked around the information they already have.”
BHG has requested £ 300,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the property.
The local company Forster Roofing is the anchor tenant for the project and has confirmed its commitment to the project.
Mr. Lockhart added, “The other difficulty with the appeal situation is that there is likely to be another winter and further deterioration in the fabric of the building.”
BHG trustee Lindsay Cameron said: The land was given to the residents of Brechin, surely it is up to them to keep it for the residents of Brechin, certainly morally, if not legally.
“They also suggested that Community Benefits did not justify the discount requested, and it would be interesting to know how they calculated those Community Benefits.
“The cost of suicide to the community is about £ 1.5 million.
“If we could save a suicide through this project, it would certainly be worth it.”
The group continues to operate its Jenner Center emergency solution center on the former Santander Bank premises.
A number of organizations use the facility for advice and support.
BHG Secretary Nilima Puthu said: “This week the schedule is full every day, so we are already proving that we have a positive influence in what we do.”