Homes bought by Moray Council for £1.2million as part of aborted road scheme will finally be sold

© Jasper ImageSNP Councillor Aaron McLean outside 15 Wittet Drive.
SNP Councillor Aaron McLean outside 15 Wittet Drive.

Cash strapped Moray Council paid £1.2 million for houses in Elgin only to leave them sitting empty after the Western Link Road project was aborted.

And as the local authority bids to sell them off to plug massive holes in its finances it has emerged they may first have to spend even more to repair them before they can be marketed.

The houses – which would have been bulldozed had the link road been built – may eventually be successfully sold and the money used to support housing initiatives across the region.

Their value has, however, still to be assessed.

The homes were once offered to NHS Grampian for staff accommodation in an effort to ease the region’s recruitment crisis, but without any expression of interest.

Four have been used intermittently by the council to temporarily accommodate tenants forced out while asbestos work has been carried out on their own properties.

The council bought the first of the five properties on Wittet Drive in Elgin eight years ago – eventually spending nearly £1.2 million getting the keys.

Homes and gardens were due to make way for the congestion-busting road until it was scrapped due to concerns it was unaffordable.

However, the houses remain on the council’s books more than two years after the transport plan disappeared.

The first of the homes is due to go on the market once paperwork is completed.

Aaron McLean, chairman of the council’s policy and resources committee, said: “In the current financial climate the money raised would be very much welcomed. It’s a total not to be sniffed at.

“They’ve been used extensively for temporary accommodation by the council but the money raised from the sale could be used elsewhere in Elgin and Moray.

“We’ve considered reinvesting them into other social housing projects and making them available for key workers, including those at Dr Gray’s.”

Elgin City South councillor John Divers argues that two of the homes should be retained by the council due to lingering doubts they may still be needed.

He said: “Not all of the homes would have been bulldozed but part of their gardens were needed to allow for adaptations to the road.

“We’re still going forward with the housing scheme at Bilbohall which could bring traffic to the area. I think it would have been sensible to wait and see the effect of that.”

A Moray Council spokesman said: “Two of the homes will be sold as soon as possible. We are awaiting home reports from an external surveyor.

“The remaining properties will be prepared for sale over the next couple of months and marketed as soon as appropriate afterward.”