SNP councillors will this week consider a report that could see the former library headquarters in Ardrossan’s Princes Street gifted to a charity that works with children, young people and adults who have communication support needs as a result of deafness, blindness, sensory impairment, learning or physical disability.
Described as the ‘north wing’ of
the building that also houses Ardrossan Library, a Council report lists
the premises as having been vacant for around three years “with little
evidence to suggest that an alternative use can easily be developed”.
a result, North Ayrshire’s SNP Cabinet will be asked to agree a plan
that would see the former offices handed over to Sense Scotland. The
part of the building in question was valued in 2013 at £240,000.
However, with little prospect of selling the property, and with annual
repair and maintenance costs of around £45,000, it is expected
councillors will back the move to allow Sense Scotland to take over the
In a report to be considered at this week’s Cabinet
meeting, Laura Friel, the Council’s Corporate Director (Finance and
Corporate Support), indicates that Sense Scotland proposes to invest
around £500,000 in the Ardrossan building, creating a facility called
‘Touchbase Ayrshire’, which would deliver a base for adult and children
support services; provide therapy, art, music and sensory activities;
create a base for outreach services within the North Ayrshire area;
accommodate personal care suites; provide a sensory garden and after
school care; with the potential for also creating a cyber café.
Scotland was formed as a charity in 1985, initially as a small group of
families pressing for services for their children who were affected by
deaf-blindness, many because of maternal rubella. The charity has since
expanded to support thousands of disabled people and their families in
projects and services throughout Scotland.
The transfer of a
property at less than market value requires the Council to comply with
the requirements of the ‘Disposal of Land by Local Authorities
(Scotland) Regulations 2010’, part of which states a council must be
satisfied that the use to which the building will be put must be
reasonable and contribute to economic development or regeneration,
health, social well-being or environmental well-being.
‘clawback’ provision will be included as part of the proposed
transaction with the charity, which states that should Sense Scotland
dispose of its interest for a purpose other than a day-care facility, or
to an organisation that is not a registered charity, then the Council
will be entitled to recover 50% of the market value of the property.
This provision will remain in force for a period of 10 years from the
date on which Sense Scotland enters the property. In addition, should
Sense Scotland fail to commence with refurbishment works within 12
months of concluding missives, or fail to commence with service delivery
within 24 months, the Council will have the right to re-acquire the
property for £1.00.
Sense Scotland has indicated its proposed new
facility will create 40 new jobs, with the intention being that many of
the positions will be filled locally.