GRAMPIAN Health Board was yesterday accused of allowing one of Scotland’s architectural treasures - a former TB sanatorium on Royal Deeside - to be "hijacked" to provide homes for the rich, following its sale to a development company.
NHS Grampian announced last week that the timber-built Glen O’Dee sanatorium, near Banchory, had been saved in a major restoration deal with Forbes Homes, a Maryculter-based development company.
The company is planning to restore the A-listed building, whose condition has been deteriorating since it was declared surplus to NHS requirements four years ago, and convert it into 12 townhouses as part of a prestigious development.
But yesterday the health authority’s decision was condemned by the trust that was formed to save the Edwardian building for the community and the housing co-operative which backed the trust’s proposals.
The Glen O’Dee Building Preservation Trust, together with Aberdeen-based Tenants First, revealed that they had been jointly negotiating to buy the property for the past two years to convert the building into 40 affordable homes for the elderly, but that their bid had been rejected by NHS Grampian and the Grampian Primary Care Trust.
Sandy Murray, the chief executive of Tenants First, claimed that the sanatorium had been "gifted" to the people of Scotland by the Scottish Red Cross Society in 1955, when the sanatorium became an NHS convalescent hospital.
He said: "I can’t believe a gift from the Red Cross to the people of Scotland can be hijacked and sold off as homes for the rich. Glen O’Dee should remain a community asset as housing for elderly people in this area, where low-cost housing is at a premium."
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian yesterday defended the sale.
"The NHS is required through the property transaction handbook to demonstrate best value for money in all property transactions," she said. "All the offers received were subject to planning consent but NHS Grampian felt that the offer which provided best value for money was that of Forbes Homes.
"If Tenants First wished to tie their deal to releasing NHS beds, it was not brought to the attention of NHS Grampian prior to the closing date for tender returns."