A buyout has been completed of a former hotel in a Moray village with hopes to revitalise it as a home for community events.
The Richmond Arms in Portgordon closed in 2011 and was most recently used as a private home.
Now Crown Estate Scotland has bought the building as it works with locals to agree a deal to pass assets into community ownership.
‘Finding a focal point was important to village’
The purchase of the former Richmond Arms follows a consultation run by the Portgordon Community Harbour Group (PCHG).
Campaigners want to lease the building to create a home for all community organisations in the village to come together under one roof.
A memorandum of understanding has also been signed by both the harbour group and Crown Estate Scotland to ensure the village port is also in local ownership by the end of 2023.
Discussions between parties initially focussed on the handover of the harbour before the nearby former hotel was also debated.
Simon Hodge, chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “It became clear that finding a place which could be a focal point for the community was very important to local residents.
“In the Richmond Arms, we have secured a building that is already familiar and well-liked as a meeting place by local people, which can now be leased to PCHG for their use.
“We’re happy to have taken another significant step toward helping them realise their vision for the area.”
Hotel buyout will support village life
Confirmation that the purchase of the former Richmond Arms has been agreed has been welcomed in the village.
Fears had been raised that community life in the village may begin to suffer even more without a focal point for groups.
Scott Sliter, PCHG chairman, said: “Establishing a community hub at the Richmond Arms will give the village a shared space to host all manner of activities – and create an opportunity for PCHG to earn income, which will be invaluable as we work to regenerate the harbour area.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The Portgordon Community Harbour Group have exciting and ambitious plans for the future of the village and the purchase of the old Richmond Arms is a big step forward in delivering a new community hub.
“The volunteers involved in driving these plans forward deserve huge credit for their efforts and I’m delighted to see this purchase now complete.”