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Police station project secures funding

By Caroline McMorran

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The redundant Dornoch Police Station enjoys a commanding location looking over the town square.
The redundant Dornoch Police Station enjoys a commanding location looking over the town square.

A major project to turn a redundant Sutherland police station into a community hub is set to become a reality following a £405,903 funding injection.

Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) is celebrating the substantial award from the Scottish Land Fund, which will enable the group to purchase the town’s police station.

Police Scotland has already provisionally agreed an asset transfer at a discounted price with contracts due to be completed in November. It is understood to be the first such asset transfer by the service, which has dispensed with a number of rural police stations.

DACIC chairwoman Joan Bishop said: “DACIC is absolutely delighted to see this project coming to fruition and is extremely grateful to the financial support from the Scottish Land Fund and the cooperation of Police Scotland in the asset transfer request.

“All parties have worked well together to enable this 1980s building in the centre of historic Dornoch to become a community owned asset and be transformed into the Dornoch Hub.”

Other aspects of the project have also slotted into place with two, part-time appointments made this year to help move it forward. Catherine Moodie, Rogart, took up the role of community development manager in charge of fundraising in January and last month Kerri Stevens, who moved north from Yorkshire, was appointed project manager.

A planning application was submitted to Highland Council last month.

Mrs Bishop said: “After extensive community consultation, the renovated building will house a business hub with offices, a creative hub with studios and workshops and a health and wellbeing hub with a much requested gym.

“There will be a community room available for a range of activities including a youth club, a coding club, healthy eating sessions and dementia inclusive craft workshops.

“There is also a conference room on the first floor and a ground floor meeting room that can be hired by the hour by local businesses and organisations. There will be an IT hot-desk facility, with potential for one-to-one IT training.

She added: “The police station includes a four bedroom hostel, which it was hoped could be transformed into a childcare centre. However, in July the childcare provider indicated that they are no longer able to proceed.

“DACIC has since developed alternative plans for the old hostel accommodation, in consultation with the local hotels and Royal Dornoch Golf Club, all of whom have a need for affordable staff accommodation during the tourist season.

“In the winter DACIC will work with The Young Karers East Sutherland (TYKES) in Golspie to offer respite accommodation for young carers and their families.”

DACIC has been granted £50,000 from the Beatrice fund to upgrade the station’s four door garage which will house the new gym, to be operated by Silverback Gym of Tain.

Further applications for funding have been made to the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and to the Regeneration and Capital Grant Fund to enable the rest of the building to be renovated and the outcomes will be known shortly

“If all goes well, we will be looking to move tenants in April next year,” said Mrs Bishop.

She continued: “This exciting project will deliver benefits to the whole community – especially the gym which has been on the wish list for more than a decade.”

Members of the public are invited to a drop-in session on Wednesday, October 2, from 3pm-7pm in the Struie Room of the Dornoch Social Club, to look at the plans and give their feedback.

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