Houses can be sold first to raise funds for Birkwood

The collapse of part of the building last summer
The collapse of part of the building last summer

Councillors have relaxed one of the planning conditions on the former Birkwood Hospital to help developers keep the project going.

The developer involved will now be allowed to build and sell 50 houses at the Lesmahagow site to raise money for the work on the historic house at the centre of it.

Birkwood House, Lesmahagow in 2014 -  Picture by Andrew Wilson

Birkwood House, Lesmahagow in 2014 - Picture by Andrew Wilson

Planning permission was granted in principle in April last year to Birkwood Estates to build housing and convert Birkwood House into a hotel with associated chalets.

The hospital closed in 2002, and the condition of the building, left lying empty, has deteriorated since then.

There has been serious water penetration and collapse of internal floors, then in July last year the entire south-west tower and half of an extension added in the 1890s crumbled into rubble. Emergency work had to be carried out to prevent any further collapse.

The landowner worked with South Lanarkshire Council to develop a plan to stabilise the building, install a new roof and prepare the premises for conversion to a hotel – work that is now under way after the developer put together sufficient funding.

The property’s owner has also been in discussion with a chain to manage the finished hotel, necessitating a change to the type of hotel planned, and adding an extension to Birkwood House.

One of the conditions attached to the planning permission was that none of the developed housing could be sold until the work to make Birkwood House wind- and watertight had been completed.

However, the level of deterioration to the building and the new work needed for the hotel conversion has increased the cost of the work considerably, so the developers requested that the condition be partially relaxed to allow it to raise finance by selling 50 houses.

The council’s planning committee approved that change to the conditions.

Committee chairman Hugh Dunsmuir said: “I am delighted that this iconic building has been preserved, thanks to the hard work of the council and Birkwood Estates.”

“The committee recognised that this was an unusual set of circumstances, and in this case it was appropriate to approve the change of conditions.”