A PUBLIC briefing on the future of one of the town’s most historic buildings is to be held next month.Members of the public are being urged to attend the event which will give a full update on the future of Leanchoil Hospital.

The initiative has been led by Forres Community Council, who raised funds to commission LDN Architects to hold a public consultation and options appraisal in 2019.

At the latest meeting which will be held on February 5, representatives from the soon to be formed Leanchoil Trust will provide an update and attendees will also be asked to partake in a community impact assessment.

Talks are progressing positively with veterans’ charity Erskine who are keen to use the main hospital building as a Veterans’ Activity Centre, the business plan being managed by Community Enterprise is well underway and the Leanchoil Trust is in talks with NHS Grampian about a community asset transfer following a recent valuation of the site.

Major General Seymour Monro, of the current working group said things are moving at pace: “Over the last few weeks great headway has been made regarding the future of the former Leanchoil Hospital. We had delegates from Erskine visit the site for a second time in January and they were very encouraged by what they saw and the condition of the building. In fact, they are so enthused by the building’s potential that they have agreed to match fund some of the initial costs for the main building refurbishment which adds huge credibility to this project.”

Major General Monro added: “We also now have a valuation of the site and discussions with NHS Grampian about a Community Asset Transfer are ongoing. If this goes ahead it will be ground-breaking as it will be the first time the NHS Grampian has been involved in a community asset transfer.”

He added: “In addition to Erskine’s involvement, we are in discussion with Health & Social Care Moray & NHS Grampian about delivering health and wellbeing for the community in the refurbishment. This would be really innovative. This is why it is so important that people attend the meeting, so they can hear in full what the project is all about and how it will benefit not just Forres and its people, but potentially the wider community as well.” 

At the meeting, a community impact assessment will be launched which will be facilitated by the team at the Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) and TSI Moray. The results of the assessment will be used to inform the Scottish Land Funds Stage 2 application which will go towards the purchase of the Leanchoil site from NHS Grampian.

Debbie Herron, development manager with FACT explained: “It’s really important that people from the area come along to the meeting as this is a further opportunity for them to have their say on the future of Leanchoil. It will be a really interactive meeting and session and all we are asking the attendees are three simple questions which will help us move the project forward.”

Forres Community Council chairman Graham Hilditch who is a member of the Leanchoil Trust explained: “In order to progress the community asset transfer, we have had to follow all of these processes. The key point which came from the public consultation was that the preferred option for the future of Leanchoil is for it to maintain its historical nature of providing health and well-being services for the community. We are very encouraged by the developments in the last few weeks and we very much look forward to sharing all of the updates at the briefing.” The Public Briefing will take place in Forres Town Hall at 7pm on Wednesday, February 5.