A former Highland police station is being given a new lease of life as a much-needed centre for businesses, a gym and hostel accommodation for seasonal workers.
The Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (Dacic) has announced it has become the new owner of the historic village’s former station.
Police Scotland controversially placed dozens of stations, including many in rural and remote area, up for sale in a bid to raise additional funds, and a number of community enterprises have since taken over the properties.
This includes Dacic, who have been successful in a transfer request with Police Scotland, which included a 5% discount from market valuation in acknowledgement of the significant community benefit.
The purchase was funded by the Scottish Land Fund.
The renovated building will house a business hub with offices, a creative centre with studios and workshops, and a health and well-being area 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.
The former police station includes a four-bedroom hostel, which will be used by local hotels and the Royal Dornoch Golf Club for affordable staff accommodation during the tourist season.
The four rooms will be available for seasonal staff and in the winter Dacic will work with TYKES in Golspie to offer respite accommodation for young carers and their families.
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 co-operation of Police Scotland in the Asset Transfer Request.
“All parties have worked well together to enable this 1980’s building in the centre of historic Dornoch to become a community owned asset and be transformed into the Dornoch Hub.
“This exciting project will deliver benefits to the whole community – especially the gym which has been on the wish list for over a decade.”
John Watt, chairman of the Scottish Land Fund Committee, added: “I am delighted that the Scottish Land Fund has been able to help to bring this locally important building into community ownership.
“They have some very exciting plans for the future and are a great example of how a community can transform ambition into reality.”
Local architect Iain Vaughan Levens, of Levens Studio, was appointed to lead the design team.
Planning permission and building warrant have been obtained.
Dacic has secured grants of £50,000 from the Town Centre Fund and £50,000 from Beatrice Windfarm Ltd and await the outcome of other bids to complete the transformation from the former Police Station to the Dornoch Hub.
A total of 13 businesses have noted their interest to rent office, creative and hostel space.
The gym will be leased to operator Silverback Gym of Tain who are making a significant investment in equipment.
Chief Superintendent George Macdonald, Divisional Commander for the Highlands, said, “The community asset transfer represents a really positive new chapter for a police building which has been much under-utilised for many years and we will continue to provide the required policing cover for the Dornoch community from nearby Golspie and Tain.
“We wish the Dornoch Area Community Interest Company well with this exciting venture”