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B&Q bosses told to take action on former Inverness site

INVERNESS’s political leader has called for urgent action so an empty DIY store - which has been branded an “eyesore” after it became a dumping ground and refuge to travellers - can be resurrected and used for a new development.

City leader Ian Brown has written to B&Q chief executive Ian Cheshire seeking face-to-face talks about the huge premises in the Carsegate Industrial Estate, which have lain empty for more than five years.

The firm flitted to a new store in the Longman but the old store’s car park has attracted groups of travellers who have pitched up to stay at the site in a fleet of caravans while building and gardening materials and waste have also been dumped.

Entry to the car park was subsequently restricted because of public complaints about the caravans and rubbish left.

The DIY giant blamed high rental prices for the impasse while the site owner Threadneedle Estates declined to comment.

But Councillor Brown said it was a prime site which needed to be brought back into use because it dominated a key entry point into Inverness.

“The abandoned site is now showing major signs of neglect and is an eyesore for all to see,” said the city leader, who claimed there was a frustrating stalemate between B&Q and the landlord.

“It is not a good impression, everybody heading north on the road sees it. It looks abandoned, a mess. I would hope my discussions with the B&Q chief executive will spark some urgency to the situation and increase efforts to bring this prime site either back into productive use or allow the site to be redeveloped. The owners of the site Threadneedle Estates and the lease holders B&Q cannot continue to leave this unit in its present condition as to do so would be irresponsible to the people of Inverness.”

“It is unacceptable that property owners and leaseholders can appear to walk away from prime sites in the city and abandon them for years simply because they will not negotiate and I hope to persuade them that they have a wider responsibility to break the deadlock.”

The SNP councillor said he hoped the Scottish Government’s recent move to increase vacant property rates could have an impact on the situation.

He added the authority was looking at other empty shops in the city with a view to encouraging other businesses to move in.

The old B&Q store lies in Inverness Central councillor Richard Laird’s ward and he said the site had become a notorious local eyesore.

“Like all abandoned buildings, it attracts anti-social behaviour,” he said. “Both the owner and the tenant have an obligation to the city to work with the council to put this prominent location to productive use. Otherwise, it is just a waste.”

B&Q said an official from its property department would be happy to meet Councillor Brown.

“B&Q is always keen to play its part in the community and following the opening of our nearby store at Longman Road, Inverness in July 2007 we closed the unit at Carsegate,” said a spokeswoman.

“For the last five years unfortunately the old store on the Carsegate Industrial Estate in Inverness has laid empty despite our efforts to sell it. This is down to high rental prices but we are continuing to look for a buyer for the site.”

The use of the store is restricted to retail or industrial developments.

Source : Hugh Ross - Highland News

27 November 2012
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