Seaforth site up for sale

THE SITE of the former Hotel Seaforth on Dundee Road is up for sale and is being marketed by McManus Property Ltd., from Glasgow.

A sign has appeared over the last few days which says that the land in question could have a variety of uses, amounts to 1.5 acres and is for sale or lease.

The land belongs to Mr Steven Smith of Seaforth Properties Ltd., Glasgow. He purchased Hotel Seaforth from Bill and Sandra Rennie in January, 2006.

After several unsuccessful planning applications for a hotel and seafront flats, the property succumbed to a fire in August of that year and was demolished a few weeks later.

The selling agent, Jonathan McManus of McManus Property Consultants told the Herald: “In relation to the site, my client, Seaforth Investments, and our team have been working on several schemes in the hope of attracting interest from hoteliers, restaurateurs and other leisure users, as per the planning guidance previously received from the local planning authority.”

There are mixed views about the use to which the land should be put. One point of view is that efforts should be made to find a hotelier wishing to build, and another is that, if the price is right, it should be acquired by Angus Council and integrated into the seafront area in which it sits.

Councillor Alex King welcomed the news that the Seaforth site was up for sale. He commented: “The prospective sale of the vacant site where the former Hotel Seaforth once stood offers Arbroath a real opportunity to find a developer who is committed to building a new, high quality hotel in the town.

“Arbroath desperately needs more high quality tourist accommodation, both hotels and guest houses, if the town is ever to get back to being the top tourism destination that it once was.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are visitors who want to come to Arbroath, but they find great difficulty in finding somewhere to stay in the immediate Arbroath area as the available accommodation is frequently already booked up – especially at weekends!”

He went on: “There has been some good news on the visitor accommodation front with the opening of Ogstons on the High Street and the re-opening of the Cliffburn as a hotel, but the beds provided by these new provisions are greatly outnumbered by the losses as both established hotels and guest houses have closed their doors over the years.

“A new, good quality, hotel with good visitor facilities, arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old Seaforth would be the catalyst needed to help kick start a new era of accommodating tourists in Arbroath and to hopefully encourage a new generation of ‘seaside landladies’, (and landlords), to open up their homes and provide more bed and breakfast facilities for visitors.”

Like many others, Councillor Bob Spink is pleased to hear that the Seaforth site is up for sale. He hopes that there is an entrepreneur out there who can see the opportunity that exists in Arbroath and the desperate shortage that exists at the moment for tourist accommodation.

He continued: “This has for many years now been top of my wish list in aiding the town’s growing prosperity and addressing its re-emergence as a prime tourist destination. It is unbelievable that a town the size of Arbroath is so ill served for accommodation, particularly that aimed at the tourism sector, and I say that while not taking away in any way from those who have been investing in the accommodation market recently. I congratulate them for their effort, but we need more.

“This was recognised by planners after the demise of Hotel Seaforth when they outlined the conditions for development of the site. These were as I recall, firstly that the site should be for a hotel type development, secondly that it may be developed as a leisure centre or at least a leisure oriented venture. If none of this came forward the site should be returned to greenfield and remain so until one of the preferred options presented itself.

“The old Arbroath Town Council, when the land all along the seaward side of the main road was cleared of buildings, declared that no housing development would be allowed on this leisure and parkland area and they are to be credited for that and complimented for their foresight. That remains strongly my view even now and I am sure many of my elected colleagues would agree with me.

“The Seaforth site persists as a blight on the attractive gateway to the town and the act of its development or improvement alone would contribute to Arbroath’s welcome to visitors. To use a much coined phrase, Arbroath is open for business and we want people to know it.”