For the past nine years, members of Crieff Community Trust (CCT) have worked tirelessly to navigate countless obstacles to take ownership of the former Drummond Arms Hotel in James Square, Crieff from an unwilling seller. The property, which is on the national Buildings at Risk Register, has fallen into major disrepair, has been left empty for 15 years and has given rise to dangerous situations over the past few years.
The Crieff Community Action Plan identified Crieff’s priority was to tackle the derelict buildings and improve the town centre, and the Drummond is seen as the catalyst for change. The Trust secured a Community Right to Buy on the property in 2014 which made it possible to eventually acquire the building in October 2019.
The Trust set up a trading subsidiary Drummond Arms Regeneration Limited (DARL) in August 2019 to take ownership and to carry out works to make the building safe and secure including the erection of scaffolding to make emergency repairs and prevent further damage from loose objects falling. This was made possible by support and funding from Perth and Kinross Council’s (PKC) Town Centre Fund which has contributed greatly to the efforts to make the building safe and enable development.
Condition reports confirm that in a conservation context the building is salvageable. The roof structure is at present also repairable but in poor condition with recommendations of 1-2 years before potential failure. Whether the building is economically salvageable must be identified.
A design team, have been working on an options appraisal for various residential, hostel and heritage centre options. All residential options incur a large conservation deficit but also much of the demand for affordable and high-end housing in Crieff has now been met.
Despite challenges with the current COVID restrictions DARL continues to develop and investigate potential options for this iconic town centre building. Work is being done with local partners to develop the building as part of the vision of Crieff as a creative and cultural destination where artists, makers and producers rent affordable workshops and can provide craft and skills training on-site alongside retail and exhibition space. With business support provided for local SMEs and the potential for creating a hostel on the top floors, a strong cultural economy for Crieff is envisaged.
This is a large building and incurs a great cost to renovate, so DARL is looking to find partners to develop complementary long-term uses for the building. They seek to identify community groups or businesses who can see the benefits of having their organisation in this iconic building. Any end-user must not be solely reliant on grant funding. A mix of community-based and commercial activities is a must. At this stage evidencing the need and the long-term economic sustainability must be established to acquire funding.
We have identified there is unmet demand for a luxury hostel in Crieff and to make use of the stunning views from the property, we seek to find hostel operators or investors to take this forward.
If you would like to see your organisation in this town centre heritage property please have a look at www.drummondarmsregenerationlimited.com for further details.
DARL and CCT would like to thank all who have assisted throughout this process and welcome a brighter future with new partnerships to take this project forward and revitalise the town centre of Crieff once again.