Council broadens search for £5 million needed to restore treasured Moray landmark

Grant Lodge has been boarded up since 2003
Grant Lodge has been boarded up since 2003

A £5 million price tag has been set on restoring one of Moray’s most treasured historic landmarks to its former glory.

Grant Lodge in Elgin has been boarded up for nearly 15 years after a serious fire started in the basement of the building.

Now Moray Council hopes the doors could be opened once again on the 18th century former library.

The authority has drawn up plans to convert the lodge into a whisky-themed visitor attraction as part of a “cultural quarter” – funded partly by a multi-million pound growth deal vision.

However, the cost of repairing and refurbishing the building has been set at £5million.

The council is now considering bidding to the Scottish Government’s regeneration capital grant fund to help cover the bill.

Yesterday, Elgin City South councillor John Divers, stressed it was something the authority had to urgently pursue.

He said: “Grant Lodge is something we have to look seriously at, there hasn’t been much movement there for long enough now.

“We’ve got an opportunity now with the growth deal to really try and get it moving. Other parts of Scotland have managed similar projects very well.

“Moray produces more whisky than anywhere else in the country. We really need a year-round attraction to bring that all together to benefit us.”

Councillors will meet on Thursday to approve bidding to the Scottish Government fund. Separate applications for European grants are also under consideration.

Grant Lodge remains owned by the people of Elgin but is managed by Moray Council in accordance with a deed of gift from former owner George Cooper.

Last night, Stuart Huyton, a member of the Grant Lodge Trust, explained the group would continue drawing up its own proposals for the building until its future became more certain.

The trust is preparing an application to the council for ownership of the building to restore it as a base for charities and as a heritage centre.

Mr Huyton said: “We would be delighted if it was restored. Seeing it back in use is the main thing that we are working towards.

“We’ve been here several times before though so until funding has been secured for a project then it’s prudent to keep progressing with our own plans for it.”