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Crown Estate boost for Portgordon hub project with purchase of former pub

By Alan Beresford

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PLANS to create a community hub in Portgordon have been handed a boost.

PCHG chairman Scott Sliter (front) and other group members celebrate the next step forward in the Portgordon hub project. Picture: Crown Estate Scotland
PCHG chairman Scott Sliter (front) and other group members celebrate the next step forward in the Portgordon hub project. Picture: Crown Estate Scotland

Crown Estate Scotland have confirmed their purchase of the former Richmond Arms pub building, which will be transformed into a community facility housing the hub.

News of the purchase was welcomed by Scott Sliter, the chairman Portgordon Harbour Group Ltd who are behind the scheme.

He said: "Establishing a community hub at the Richmond Arms will give the village a shared space to host all manner of activities – and create an opportunity for PCHG to earn income, which will be invaluable as we work to regenerate the Harbour Area.”

Crown Estate Scotland’s purchase follows a consultation, run by PCHG, on the site’s potential redevelopment as a community hub. The two organisations are working together to find the best way to give the community control of property, including the local harbour.

Simon Hodge, Chief Executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “As we discussed transferring ownership of the harbour and other local property to PCHG, it became clear that finding a place which could be a focal point for the community was very important to local residents.

“In the Richmond Arms, we have secured a building that is already familiar and well-liked as a meeting place by local people, which can now be leased to PCHG for their use. We’re happy to have taken another significant step toward helping them realise their vision for the area.”

The building is seen as being in an ideal location to provide a range of services to local people and visitors alike, being on the main street through the village while also looking onto the harbour.

Also delighted to hear the news was Moray MP Richard Lochhead, who had previously chaired a meeting to bring Crown Estate Scotland, PCHG, and HIE together to try to push forward the community’s plans to take ownership of local assets.

Mr Lochhead said: “The Portgordon Community Harbour Group have exciting and ambitious plans for the future of the village and the purchase of the old Richmond Arms is a big step forward in delivering a new community hub.

“The volunteers involved in driving these plans forward deserve huge credit for their efforts and I’m delighted to see this purchase now complete. I hope that work towards a community asset transfer continues to move forward positively, allowing the group to deliver their ambitious plans for these vital assets in Portgordon.”

It is also hoped to form a development trust in Portgordon to help drive the hub project forward.

As well as the creation of the hub, PCHG's ultimate aim is to bring the village's harbour back into community ownership. A memorandum of understanding having been signed with Crown estate Scotland – the harbour's owners – to hand it over to the community by 2023.

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