Wick’s derelict buildings could play a part in green energy drive

6th March 2013 from Caithness Courier

Some of a clutch of derelict buildings in Wick could be converted into new offices to help support the port’s mooted role in servicing new offshore wind developments.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP John Thurso sees it as a solution to the growing problem of long-time vacant properties which local community councillors view as a scourge to local people and a turn-off to visitors.

In November, Historic Scotland’s Buildings at Risk register listed 45 buildings in Caithness, 21 of which were in Wick - the majority in and around the quayside area.

John Thurso claims these buildings should be seen as an opportunity to not just help bring vibrancy back to the area but also strengthen Wick’s role in the offshore wind business.

“You can be optimistic or pessimistic, but I remember helping Wick Harbour Trust 10 years ago when one of the major assets it had was buildings and land,” he said.

“If you look where Wick Harbour is now, it has included the use of that as well as the development of the marina. We have to think about how other spaces occupied by buildings that are not used can be used for future development.

“As well as commercial development, they could be holiday lets for users of the marina.”

The Lib Dem MP continued: “It is right that people are starting to look at the problem of derelict buildings and how they can be used.”

Many of Wick’s ‘at risk’ properties are in Union Street, The Shore, Saltoun Street, Breadalbane Crescent and Argyle Square.

John Thurso is set to attend a public meeting arranged by Wick Community Council to discuss what can be done to resolve the problem.

Secretary Joanna Coghill yesterday said it is an issue many residents feel strongly about.

“We did not realise how many derelict buildings there were in the town until we went on a tour to look for ourselves,” she said.

“As the chairwoman of the hanging baskets committee, I was amazed by the number.

“The town is lucky it does not have a graffiti or little problem, but it does account for almost half of all derelict buildings in Caithness.

“For visitors coming into the town we are trying to make Wick look as prosperous as possible to convince them to stay and spend money.”

She added: “I have been e-mailing various people about setting up an informal meeting to see what can be done to address the situation.”

The meeting is scheduled to take place in Wick Assembly Rooms on Thursday, March 28 with the time still to be confirmed.

Caithness Courier