Graham Hilditch

Forres Community Councilor & Chair Graham Hilditch outside Leanchoil Hospital

A historic Moray hospital that was closed by NHS Grampian last October will be the subject of a feasibility study organised by the local community.

Leanchoil Hospital in Forres was deemed “financially unsustainable” by the health board and was shut temporarily for two months due to staffing shortages.

It was then closed permanently a month later at the end of November, because it was not suited to the pressures of modern healthcare and it was considered an upgrade would cost too much to implement.

However, the Forres community has been working on viable options to make sure the building gets used for the good of the town.

And now,  a feasibility study is being commissioned to investigate the state of the building and examine how expensive it would be to refurbish.

Forres Community Council chairman Graham Hilditch believes that the sooner something is done about Leanchoil the better it will be for everyone involved.

He said: “The study will look at the state and the condition of the building and how much it would cost us to get it back to modern standards.

“We want to do a lot of community engagement to find out what the people want to see and come up with some viable uses for it.

“I’d like to think that by the end of the year, we should have a reasonable idea of what the situation is with it.”

The feasibility study will cost about £35,000, which Mr Hilditch hopes to raise through applying for grants. Berry Burn Community Fund has already supplied £20,000.

Mr Hilditch emphasised how much his group has engaged with the community, who have a lot of affinity with the hospital.

He said: “Some of the suggestions put forward to us for viable uses focus a lot on health and wellbeing and it’s a big complex so there can be multiples uses, like sheltered housing or a care community.”

Forres councillor George Alexander is hopeful a sustainable future can be found for the “iconic building.”

He said: “I’d like it to be used for something, not for a hospital but maybe a care home or accommodation for students.

“It is quite an iconic building, but at the same time, we must look to the future and it may be difficult for it to be converted for modern services.”

News article form Press & Journal

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