Town to buy its biggest eyesore?

In happier days, The Royal Oak Hotel, now badly deteriorated,
In happier days, The Royal Oak Hotel, now badly deteriorated,

There could soon be action at last over what many see as Lanark’s biggest eyesore, the crumbling former Royal Oak Hotel.

The Scottish Government has just passed a new law which makes community buy-outs of such properties possible and the Lanark Development Trust has said it is interested in such a takeover of the premises which has lain vacant and steadily deteriorating for several years.

Both Clydesdale’s MSP Aileen Campbell and Lanark area South Lanarkshire council member Julia Marrs this week welcomed the legislation which gives groups such as the Trust the right to slap a compulsory purchase order on any neglected property and get it at a price not set by the owners but by the independent District Valuer.

The Gazette understands that ‘The Oak’ is jointly owned by two businessmen and their asking price is £200,000.

They obtained planning permission for conversion of the upper floors to six flats with a pub on the ground floor but this never became a reality.

The eyesore is the first building visitors to the Royal Burgh see when they disembark from trains at Lanark Station and the town’s Community Council, involved in efforts to boost the area’s tourism potential, has repeatedly complained that the former, Victorian-era building makes a terrible first impression on visitors.

The Development Trust executive member responsible for town centre redevelopment planning, Frank Gunning, greeted the new legislation, stating it could “only help” in redeveloping the hotel site, probably for social housing.

He added that forthcoming legislation to levy rates on disused buuildings might prompt a quick sale.