Fresh attempts are being made to bring a historic eyesore building in Elgin town centre back into use.
Last year, Moray Council backed proposals to demolish the 19th Century buildings at 184 – 188 High Street and rebuild them as a shop and 15 flats.
However, the proposals were later thrown out by the Scottish Government after an objection by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).
Now developers Action Elgin have revived the proposals and submitted new demolition plans to the council.
Documents submitted by agents Springfield Properties stress that each brick of the grade C-listed frontage will be numbered before being used in the reconstruction – warning restoring the entire structure would be too expensive.
Yesterday, Sandy Adam, a director of Action Elgin, explained that the downgrade of part of the buildings from B-listed had opened up the possibility of the project being brought forward again.
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He added: “High streets throughout the UK are struggling due to more people shopping online and other factors.
“This project would attract more people to Elgin’s High Street both to live and to work while respecting the architecture of the area. We hope to get approval soon and start work early next year.”
Surveys at the rear of the former tobacconist and tackle shop, which has been empty since 2008, have found that the structure has “significantly deteriorated”.
It is understood the flats could be targeted at NHS staff and other professionals who have just moved to the region or will be working in the area for short periods of time.
HES objected to the original demolition proposal due to the unusual stone frontage making the building a “critical heritage site” in the town centre. However, the heritage agency said it was willing to work with the council and developers on a revised project.
Elgin City South councillor John Divers, a director of the town’s business improvement district, said: “A lot of work is going on to bring empty buildings in the town centre back into use. Here we have a proposal to use one, which makes it frustrating it was refused before.
“The back of the building is almost falling down now. If it’s able to be used then it would be really positive for that end of the high street.”
Heldon and Laich councillor John Cowe, a former chairman of the council’s economic development committee, added: “The west end of Elgin High Street badly needs something done to bring back a sense of vitality to the area.”