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Leanchoil project put on hold by Erskine charity due to coronavirus


By Garry McCartney


Leanchoil steering group members Major General Seymour Monro (left), Tom Duff and Andrew Anderson outside the boarded-up hospital.
Leanchoil steering group members Major General Seymour Monro (left), Tom Duff and Andrew Anderson outside the boarded-up hospital.

THE MAJOR backer of the Leanchoil Hospital reinvention project has put its plans on hold.

Last month, Renfrewshire-based veteran's care charity Erskine formally declared an interest in setting up a veterans’ activity centre in the main building later this year, however, this is no longer a certainty due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

At that time, Leanchoil Trust chairman, Major General Seymour Monro, announced at a public meeting in the town hall that the Leanchoil site was likely to be community asset-transferred from NHS Grampian on behalf of the town.

However, he now explains: "Erskine, the anchor tenant, has had to stop work on all future projects until the way forward can be seen through Covid-19. Erskine hope to be able to renew their firm interest in Leanchoil sometime in the future.

"The Leanchoil Trust has been giving further consideration to other options for the use of other parts of the site, including local health and well-being services, and accommodation, in accordance with the wishes of the local community.

"The Trust will continue these efforts within the limitations of the Covid-19 situation."

Plans had been laid out for the main building, maternity wing and nurses’ home at Leanchoil during February's announcement.

Erskine 's Veterans’ Activity Centre was to be open to veterans of all ages and it was hoped that it would be up-and-running by autumn.

After a few years, the maternity wing's refurbishment would require around £2.5million to make it a centre for health and wellbeing for the Forres area community.

It is also hoped that the nurses' home behind the main building both Erskine could be used for accommodation for residents, patients and staff. Around £1.5million would be required to convert and refurbish it.

"The trust has had extremely positive discussions with NHS Grampian, despite their current priorities," said Maj Gen Munro. "However the implications of Erskine’s position and of Covid-19 generally mean that the Community Asset Transfer process will have to be put on hold.

"The trust has been giving further consideration to options for the use of other parts of the site, including local health and well-being services and accommodation in accordance with the wishes of the local community.

"We will continue these efforts within the limitations of the Covid-19 situation."

A spokesperson for Health and Social Care Moray confirmed that, given the condition of Leanchoil and the work that would be required to bring it up to a safe clinical standard, it is not included in the current COVID-19 mobilisation plan.



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