What now for former council HQ?

Tom Johnston House
Tom Johnston House

Concern is growing over the future of a former council headquarters which has now lain empty for nearly two years.

East Dunbartonshire Council moved from Tom Johnston House, in Kirkintilloch, to its current Southbank Marina HQ in August 2012 - a shift that the administration said would save around £350,000.

Last year developers unveiled a plan to transform the site into a supermarket with several associated businesses, but since then more detail has emerged and - crucially - no supermarket has said they would be interested in moving onto the site.

Now residents are demanding to know if the plans have progressed, with others concerned about how much it’s costing the cash-strapped council to keep the large building mothballed - with Tom Johnston House becoming a target for stone-throwing vandals in recent months.

Herald reader Ian Thomson said: Since June of last year the council’s intentions for the future of Tom Johnston House have been something less than crystal clear, at least to the residents of East Dunbartonshire.

“Perhaps we may be enlightened before long as to the council’s plans. After all, we are talking about the future of a substantial public asset, which is difficult to miss when entering the town from the south and which was apparently declared surplus to requirements some time ago.

Thomas Glen, the council’s director of technical services, said: “East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) has been actively working and exploring potential options for how we best dispose of Tom Johnston House (TJH) in Kirkintilloch and as result EDC have agreed to enter into a joint venture with the adjoining land owner.

“At present pre-application discussions are continuing between the developer and planning authority, ahead of submission of a planning application. For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we are unable to provide any more detail at this point. As soon as we are in a position to say more, we will ensure that the local community is kept informed.”

While Mr Glen refused to put an annual figure on the cost of maintaining the building, he did admit that the council were paying for “a supply of water, electricity and gas to the building and are absorbing the standard charges for these at present.”

He added: “The building is a public asset and as such we have a duty to maintain it to ensure that we preserve its value and ensure the best return for tax payers - even with the current economic downturn.”