An eyesore former toy shop in Elgin has been earmarked for a potential housing development as part of the multi-million pound Moray Growth Deal.
Junners closed its doors for the last time in January 2016 after 116 years of trading.
The large C-listed property was once the entrance to Elgin’s Victorian market but has been since become rundown.
Repeated attempts to sell the South Street shop at auction have proved unsuccessful while it continues to remain on the market.
Toy shop has ‘been on radar for a while’ for housing
Now a solution may have been found for the problem property as part of the Moray Growth Deal project.
The former toy shop has been earmarked as a candidate for a transformation into a possible housing development.
Accelerating the delivery of new homes across Moray by stimulating town centre developments has been earmarked as a priority for the deal.
Elgin City South councillor John Divers, who is a director of the town centre’s business improvement district, said: “That building has been on the radar for quite a while and the growth deal is hopefully a way to push that through.
“Accommodation in the centre is something me need to move forward with. When you walk along the High Street and look at the upper floors, they’re all empty, so we want to get them back into use.
“More people living in the centre will also help support hospitality businesses.
“Hopefully this will be an incentive for other owners in the area to bring their own buildings back into use as housing. It can be difficult with older properties though.”
Attracting occupants to empty properties has been a long-term goal for Elgin’s business improvement district.
Housing developments key aim of growth deal
The Moray Growth Deal bid has secured a commitment from the UK and Scottish governments to invest a collective £65million in specific projects, which would otherwise be unaffordable.
The packages are used across the country to combine government backing as well as private sector investment to deliver long-term strategic aims.
Delivering affordable housing has been identified as a significant need in Moray with the waiting list for a council home nearing an all-time high of 4,000.
Documents being presented to this week’s Moray Community Planning Board say the project aims to create 120 new town centre homes across the region with a potential £2.4million of funding allocated.
Artist impressions included in the papers show the former Junners toy shop renovated with two new upper floors of accommodation as a housing development.
The executive summary of the project explains that empty properties in town centres across Moray are proving a barrier to development.
It adds: “Vacant and derelict sites, often in or near town centres are an eyesore and have been derelict in some cases for 20 years with very limited, if any, developer interest.
“This has resulted in most development being on greenfield sites on the edge of settlements, with a significantly lower level of brownfield development in Moray when compared to Scotland.”
It adds: “This element supports town centre regeneration aspirations and will encourage more activity in town centres, create employment opportunities and support the development of an evening economy, providing affordable housing opportunities in the town centres and unlocking private sector housing opportunities.”
Other towns in Moray eyed for housing
Meanwhile, the housing project as part of the wider growth deal vision will also include a focus on opening up more sites in smaller communities.
The first project is intended to be the Dallas Dhu site on the southern outskirts of Forres with a future focus on opening up sites on Speyside and on the coast near Buckie.
Both the UK and Scottish governments have signed heads of terms paperwork to pledge support for the projects contained in the Moray Growth Deal.
However, the final deal will not be signed until more fully developed business cases have been approved.