MOFFAT’S Mercury Inn may be set to be torn down after Dumfries and Galloway Council approved a demolition application.
The eyesore building is currently owned by Equorium Property Company Ltd (EPCL), which is a subsidiary of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM). EPCL applied for permission from the council to bulldoze the inn last week.
Dumfries and Galloway Council approved the demolition application on Monday, with the demolition estimated to cost EPCL up to £150,000.
Since closing in 1999, the building was bought by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Ownership was subsequently transferred between two EWM companies in 2011.
Over the years both EWM and EPCL have alluded to plans to redevelop the former hotel. And in 2015 talk of transforming the Mercury into a state-of the-art training centre was put forward by Chefs in Scotland. But requests submitted by the Moffat-based recruitment agency to take over the land were never answered by EWM.
Campaigner turned community councillor Mick Barker took on the mission to get action at the derelict hotel last year.
However, Mick is wary of this latest development as there is no date listed on the application for the commencement of the demolition work.
He said: “The fact of the matter is this company has a history of making promises to develop the site, obviously that’s not happened, and it has been left to decay.
“I have been told that if the work does go ahead the site will be turned into a car park, which I think most people in the town would welcome since in the summer the town becomes extremely busy, but this is only the first step of the process of that possibly becoming a reality.
“If and when the day does come that the Mercury does come down, I’ll be there as I’m sure many others in the town will be too and we’ll celebrate with a glass of something.”
Annandale North councillor Stephen Thompson believes any progress on dealing properly with the former Mercury Inn is “welcome” and “could be a turning point in what has been a long-standing frustration”.
Cllr Thompson added: “Despite numerous community campaigns and aspirations in recent decades to deal with this dereliction, it ultimately comes down to the actions of the owners of the property.
“The news of the application to the council for demolition of the building by Equorium Property Company Ltd could be a turning point in what has been a long-standing frustration.
“The former hotel is not within the Moffat conservation area and is not a listed building so no planning permission is required for the demolition.
“This is in effect an application for a building warrant and will be assessed against building regulations for compliance.
“Hopefully once the demolition is carried out the site can be used for something useful and productive and be a positive benefit to Moffat.”