Former mill ready to go - when market picks up

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THE REMAINING part of a Grade-A listed building in Montrose continues to deteriorate, and is on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland.

The former Chapel Works mill and whisky bond in Eastern Road, bordered by Paton’s Lane and Marine Avenue, is in a sorry state.

Despite its status, it has remained in a deteriorating condition for some years.

Yet it has a fascinating history. It was one of the largest mills outside Dundee, and in 1864 it had 12,000 spindles operated by 800 employees and driven by steam engines of 120 hp. Only three Dundee mills then had more spindles.

J & G Paton started spinning in 1828, acquired limited liability in 1899 and closed in 1967.

Chapel Works then became the bond of George Morton and Sons, whisky and rum blenders and bottlers, formerly of Dock Street, Dundee.

But it ceased to be a working building in 1989 and an application was lodged to demolish the entire complex except for the part that remains.

There was considerable opposition to this, but in 1991 Angus District Council voted to approve demolition of all but the Eastern Road elevation.

And a few months later the works were hit by fire.

Despite this, the view was still taken that commercial or light industrial uses might provide the best option for the site, although it was known that a housing association was interested in the site.

By the start of 1994 the eastern part of the complex was owned by Tayside Health Board, which was then proposing to build a new Montrose Community Hospital on the site. The remainder was owned by Chivas Brothers.

But in January of that year the Review reported a second fire.

An application by a Forfar developer for 93 houses and flats on the site was recommended for approval.

The site was purchased by the Servite and Hillcrest Housing Associations and in 2002 Hillcrest completed 50 units.

Further housing was approved, but the remaining part of the mill is untouched. Hillcrest were reported to be keen to see the property redeveloped, possibly as part of a façade retention scheme.

But Buildings at Risk inspectors report in 2008 that the warehouse was vacant and boarded-up, the structure was very badly eroded on the west elevation, and the condition of ‘rainwater goods’ was of particular concern.

A year later they found the building‘s condition deteriorating with vegetation growth and blocked downpipes.

The Review contacted Hillcrest Housing Association, whose name is on warning signs outside, but a spokeswoman directed us to the current owner, Dundee firm George Martin Builders.

We spoke to them on Monday, and were told that planning permission and building warrants exist for 10 townhouses, but the market is not strong enough for building to start.