Why the Drummond Arms?
The top priority identified by people in Crieff for the Crieff Community Action Plan was to find solutions to the problem of Crieff’s redundant and derelict buildings. The building that stood as holding the key to the regeneration of Crieff’s town centre was the former Drummond Arms Hotel – a huge derelict eyesore dominating the centre of Crieff.
The Drummond Arms Hotel as it is today was built in two distinct building phases – the first in 1871-2 and the second in 1874. It is an attractive stone building located on the north edge of James Square in Crieff Town Centre.
Along with the former RBS, the structure is a Grade B listed building. With a skyline visible from far and wide, the landmark building attracted visitors and locals throughout its history.
The property, which is on the national Buildings at Risk Register, has been left empty and neglected for many years and has caused a lot of concern in the community and from people passing through Crieff on the A85.
The main part of the building was owned by Strathfare and a section of the ground floor owned and occupied by the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS were forced to vacate their premises in early 2012 due to its unsafe condition and a legal dispute began over this with Strathfare. The RBS offered CCT their portion of the building for a nominal sum which CCT declined because they were not in a position to take on the liability. In November 2014 RBS ended its legal action against Strathfare and sold its portion of the building to Strathfare.
Community Right To Buy
In Spring 2014, CCT began the process of collecting signatures for a Community Right to Buy for the former Drummond Arms hotel. CCT volunteers collected 1541 signatures and verified over 1182 as being in the registered area demonstrating support from 22.5% of the electoral roll [only 10% is needed]. In October CCT received the great news from the Scottish Government that it had successfully registered its Community Right To Buy.
A month after hearing CCT had the Community Right to Buy, RBS sold its portion of the building to Strathfare ending the court case. In December 2014, CCT met with representatives from Perth & Kinross Council and the owners of the Drummond Arms to see if there was a way CCT and Strathfare could work together to resolve the situation. The building was not for sale or being marketed as the owners felt that, with the depressed property market at the time, it was unlikely to achieve the amount of £500,000+ which they considered the building to be worth.
At this meeting with PKC and CCT Strathfare also confirmed they would be making the building wind, watertight and structurally safe, with work completed by the end of April 2015. They said they had commissioned an independent survey of the building and determined that the building was internally sound with no major causes of concern. CCT had had access to a survey conducted by RBS in early 2012, which suggested a different conclusion. PKC asked Strathfare to share their independent survey with PKC Building Control, who had major concerns about the building’s condition. Strathfare did not provide the survey nor proof that the building was insured.
Success – CCT acquires the title to the Drummond Arms!
While the crumbling property was left to fall into major disrepair and gave rise to dangerous situations, CCT continued to work very hard, navigating countless obstacles to secure the building and bring it back into use for the benefit of Crieff. Finally in October 2019 CCT secured the title to the former Drummond Arms hotel. For five years we had been carrying out feasibility studies, acquiring funding and developing partnerships. It was a long and difficult journey and a huge learning curve. The process tested our tenacity, resilience and stamina but we were very happy to have finally acquired the building. We had huge help from the community of Crieff, Perth and Kinross Council, the Scottish Government, the various funders who have helped along the way and a number of other organisations and individuals which are too numerous to mention.
But with this big hurdle overcome, the real work had just begun …
The immediate priority was to make the building safe before the hard work of bringing the building back to life could begin. CCT wanted to ensure that anything that goes in the building will be economically sustainable and fit for purpose for years to come, that it won’t compete with local businesses and organisations and will bring people back into the town.
In order to work towards a long term, sustainable solution the Drummond Arms, CCT set up a trading subsidiary company, Drummond Arms Regeneration Limited (DARL), to secure the title and make it safe and secure. Work began in October 2019 to board up the windows and doors and secure any loose materials. Scaffolding was put up and had to stay in place through the long Covid year of 2020.
Read here to follow the next steps for the Drummond Arms.