Civic Trust accolade for city’s regeneration

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Five years of intensive effort to regenerate the historical centre of Brechin have culminated in a Civic Trust commendation.

The prestigious accolade is for the sympathetic restoration of the ‘jewel in the crown’ - the fifteenth century Category A listed Merchants House, one of the first buildings to be listed on the Scottish Civic Trust’s Buildings at Risk Register.

The building had been unoccupied for decades, and its unassuming exterior gave no hint of the rare and significant oak ashlar post roof with roof timbers dating from the 15th and 16th centuries and largely unaltered Georgian interiors contained within.

Bob Myles, chairman of the Brechin THI, said: “The condition of the building was poor and its appearance was detrimental to the townscape and neighbouring terrace of buildings.

“The building had undergone little change in the 20th century and the scale and condition of the property meant that costs for restoring and refurbishing were predicted to be the highest amongst the priority buildings.

“We worked to overcome many difficulties until the building was acquired by a private individual who, supported by grants, moved forward the project to create two townhouses for private rental, completed in March 2012.”

He added: “We are delighted the property has received this commendation.

“The building’s refurbishment has significantly improved this area of the High Street and has also resulted in the owners of the adjacent four buildings repainting the facades of their buildings.

“It has simultaneously clearly removed the sizeable risk to the structures of the neighbouring properties.”

The building was the focus of a visit by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Rothesay, in October of last year when the Prince took a tour round the fully restored buildings.

Brechin THI drew money and support from Angus Council, Historic Scotland, and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The town also benefitted from the Scottish Government’s town centre regeneration fund.

Since 2008, it has worked through a system of grants, usually to private owners, to improve a number of properties in the town’s High Street, The Town House Museum, Dalhousie Bar, Mechanics Institute and the Northern Hotel

Bob Myles commented: “The THI halted the decline of the town centre, leading to a marked improvement in civic pride amongst the local community and local retailers.

“This civic pride has been further developed by a newly- formed retailers group, which has organised a number of themed and promotional events.

“These events have attracted large numbers of visitors and have been important in beginning to rebuild the confidence and profile of local businesses.”

“Brechin THI set out to improve the standard of repair and maintenance of the traditional buildings, as well as educating both owners and contractors in the importance of the appropriate use of traditional materials.”

For more information about Brechin THI visit http://www.angus.gov.uk/brechinthi/default.html