MORAY’s MSP has thrown his weight behind the Leanchoil Hospital project which aims to breathe new life into the former hospital.
Richard Lochhead visited Leanchoil Hospital in Forres with trustees to see how they envisage the building can be redeveloped.
It is hoped that the historic building will be transformed into a veterans’ activity centre which will be run by armed forces charity Erskine and a well-being hub for the community.
And the Leanchoil Trust is currently in talks with NHS Grampian about a community asset transfer of the site following a recent valuation.
Following the visit, Mr Lochhead said he is happy to lend his support to the project.
He said: “I congratulate the trustees for all their hard work as they strive to take forward their ambitious and welcome vision for Leanchoil. The former hospital is an important part of the area’s heritage and the impressive buildings hold many memories for the local community and are a local treasure. It is therefore heartening to know the plans to breathe new life into Leanchoil are making good progress.
“I found the tour and briefing enormously valuable and it is easy to imagine how the site could be turned into something special and how new services for the community could be delivered from there following refurbishment. If Erskine were to choose Leanchoil as their first base outside of the central belt for a veteran’s activity centre this would be superb for Forres and help boost the town’s profile and it would also be such a good fit with the needs of Moray given that we have a large veterans population.
“I will certainly be lending my support to the project and am speaking to NHS Grampian to press for a smooth and timely community asset transfer. I have also pledged to work with the trustees and community to see what can be done to secure funding for the site’s redevelopment and I will also be speaking to relevant Scottish Government colleagues to let them know about these exciting plans.”
Major General Seymour Monro, one of six trustees involved in the redeveloped said: “Mr Lochhead spent a good hour with us at the former Leanchoil Hospital and seem enthused by the plans ahead.
“We were delighted to be able to show him around the main building where it is hoped Erskine would base themselves should our ambitious plans go ahead. Having Mr Lochhead visit, was a real boost to us as trustees and hearing his positive comments and his intention to support the project going forward will only go toward helping us on our way to developing a sensational hub for veterans and the community of Forres and beyond.”
Earlier this month (Feb 5), over 100 people attended a public briefing about the future of the site where they also took part in an important community impact assessment which will be used to secure funds to take the project forward.