NHS Grampian Board has unanimously approved the asset transfer request submitted in December 2021 by Leanchoil Trust, the organisation set up to save Leanchoil and its grounds for the local community. The Trust was praised for the content and quality of work which had gone into the request.

The full community asset transfer process could take up to a year to finalise before the whole 10-acre site, including the woods at the rear, comes into the ownership of the local community. A purchase price of £340,000 has been agreed for Leanchoil, and the Trust has current funding applications ongoing to raise this sum, and additional costs. This will be followed by a major funding campaign to raise the £4 million plus which will be required to refurbish the health and wellbeing facility in the old main building.

Leanchoil trust has been working closely with leading veterans’ charity, Erskine, for some time to potentially create a veterans activity centre within the health and wellbeing building. This would be the first centre in the north of Scotland and would serve the large number of veterans in the Forres and wider area. In the short term, until the refurbishment work is completed, Leanchoil and Erskine have been investigating the potential use of the Nurses’ Home at the back of the main building as a temporary home for the activity centre.

It is planned that the Scottish Ambulance Service will remain on the site and eventually be relocated to the new health and wellbeing facility which is being planned for part of the original Leanchoil hospital.

Leanchoil are also talking with Health and Social Care Moray, and various third sector organisations.

The long-term vision is to create a busy health and wellbeing centre with café, meeting rooms and clinics. The café would be the hub of the health village which could include supported living accommodation with a range of facilities on site to assist both residents and the local community.

Leanchoil Chairman, Graham Hilditch said, “this is a huge step forward for the Trust and our mission of saving Leanchoil and bringing it in to the ownership of the local community. The trustees have worked hard over the last four years to reach this point. There is much still to do, but we are confident that we can create an innovative health and wellbeing village, which will serve the needs of the community”.