A wrangle over its price is preventing the sale of the eyesore former Royal Oak Hotel in the heart of Lanark to a group of townsfolk willing to repair it and put it back into commercial use.
That has been revealed following a debate about the increasing number of derelict buildings scarring the town centre, the old hotel being the most prominent and the first sight visitors see when they leave trains at Lanark railway station.
It closed almost a decade ago and has fallen into an increasing state of disrepair since.
Planning permission was granted several years ago to convert the upper floors to flats with a ground-floor bar, but nothing came of thatt.
Now, Lanark Community Development Trust is attempting organise a buyout of the 150-year-old building under the Scottish Government’s 2015 Community Empowerment Act from its current owner, but the trustee trying to organise the deal, community council chairman Frank Gunning, has described its undisclosed asking price as unfeasible.
A similar price wrangle prevented a trust plan to redevelop the nearby Alston’s Yard site in Ladyacre Road from going ahead.
Now, at the suggestion of newly-elected Lanark councillor Julia Marrs, Mr Gunning is supporting using recent Holyrood legislation to persuade the Royal Oak’s owner to lower its price.
“I think if the new legislation to charge full rates for derelict buildings was imposed, that would bring the price down dramatically and lead to someone who wants to redevelop it being able to purchase it.”
He added that such a rates charge would also encourage owners of other buildings such as the former Lanark Market auction ring to progress long-dormant redevelopment plans.
Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell pledged her support, stating: “I am aware of the concerns that have been raised around the Royal Oak Hotel and the aim of local people to buy the property under the Community Empowerment Act.
“My office has contacted the Scottish Government to ask for advice about the difficulties those wishing to buy the property have encountered, and I have been liaising with councillor Julia Marrs on this matter.”
The act was made law in 2015, with ministers claiming it “will help to empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them”.