Future social housing role for Wirren House

WIRREN House will continue its former role as social housing after sports facilities are moved back to the refurbished sports centre.

A recommendation to use of the site for social housing was approved last week at a meeting of Angus Council’s corporate services committee once the centre’s fitness suite is relocated from the building.

A plan to relocate the suite to the former residential care home during construction of the new multi-million pound swimming pool was given unanimous backing at the authority’s development standards committee last month.

The facilities will operate in the building in North Esk Road, which closed at the end of September, for the expected 21-month duration of the project.

Planning permission was granted last January for an extension to the existing sports centre at Marine Avenue to form a new swimming pool and other associated accommodation and during the project the existing leisure facilities will be decanted to other venues within the town including the town hall and Montrose Academy.

The building will provide around 1,270sq feet of floor space for fitness equipment - an area close in size to the current sports centre provision - as well as office, changing and toilet areas.

No external work will be required and the proposal included similar opening times - 9am to 10pm, seven days per week - to the existing sports centre although infrastructure services director Eric Lowson said this may be reviewed depending on the level of use.

Permission for the scheme was granted despite four letters of objection from nearby residents which raised concerned including the impact on their amenity, traffic movement and parking provision.

The conditional planning consent also required 15 parking spaces, with the loss of some trees.

At last Thursday’s meeting councillors agreed with a recommendation by corporate services director Colin McMahon that the site be transferred to the council’s housing revenue account at open market value for development as social housing.

He said: “The leisure services section of the neighbourhood services department has expressed an interest in utilising Wirren House to relocate the fitness suite during the construction period of the new swimming pool.

“The adjoining site at Dungman’s Tack is held on the housing revenue account and proposals for a new affordable housing development are currently being progressed.

“The head of housing has expressed an interest in acquiring Wirren House for phase two expansion of this affordable housing project.

“The eventual appropriation to the housing revenue account will be at open market value resulting in a capital receipt for Angus Council.”

The move was welcomed by local councillor David May who said the scheme would respond to a need in the town.

He commented: “On completion of the pool Wirren House will be part of a social housing development in that area.

“This is greatly needed in the town as we have people looking for council housing and social housing. This will be a great advantage and will mean we will be able to offer people more than at the moment.”