Viewhill House Options Appraisal Community Consultation

Posted on 01st April 2015.

Options Appraisal

The Trust  commissioned an Options Appraisal to investigate the feasibility of undertaking the repair, conversion and re-use of Viewhill House. the future of which is dependent on identifying a viable (and fundable) repairs strategy, and establishing whether there is a viable new use for the building.

In summary, an Options Appraisal identifies and assesses potential options for the building, for their impact on the significance of the building, for their economic / market viability and for their fundability.

Community consultation is acknowledged as being an essential part of an Options Appraisal to enable the views of the local community to be taken into account in establishing whether there is local support for the project to repair and re-use Viewhill House.

For reasons outlined in the Options Appraisal, and following community consultation, preference has been given to the use of the property as eight serviced apartments. Allowing for inflation, initial project costings suggest a total development cost of approximately £3.5 million plus VAT. It has been estimated that the value of the property after redevelopment would be £1.2 million, leaving a “conservation deficit” of £2.3 million.

Funding

Besides seeking arrangements with an existing operator of serviced apartments, HHBT acknowledges that bringing Viewhill House back into use will require substantial grant funding. Possible sources include Historic Scotland’s Historic Building Repair Grant, the Scottish Government’s Vacant and Derelict Land Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund (Heritage Enterprise Programme). 

Next Stage

•    HHBT will be initially seeking development funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund:-

 a.    to appoint a Specialist Business Consultant whose role would be to identify and make provisional financial management and administrative arrangements with an existing serviced apartments operator and subsequently

b.    to employ a Project Development Officer 
 
•    thereafter HHBT would prepare an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Heritage Enterprise Programme whilst  exploring other partnership funding and grants and

•    subject to obtaining grants and other funding, HHBT would look to negotiate transfer ownership of the property from the current owner at a nominal cost
    
It could be around two years before the contract for the repair and conversion of Viewhill House is let and three years before it is available for use as serviced apartments. A Minute of Agreement between HHBT and the current owner allows for a period of twenty-four months in which to investigate and to obtain appropriate funding arrangements for the restoration of Viewhill House and to decide whether to proceed further.

HHBT has recently submitted a pre-app to the planning authority to elicit the planners' views in advance of  formal planning and listed building consent applications. Favourable planning support at this stage in combination with a viable business plan are vital pre-requisites to the Trust’s  grant funding applications and to attracting business interest in the project.