The owners of a dilapidated building at the heart of a Falkirk community say they are fighting to save it from demolition.
Brothers Mohammed Anil Akhtar (21) and Mohammed Adiel Akhtar (26) say they want to invest in redeveloping the prominent red sandstone ‘Big Bar’ property in Bainsford’s Main Street.
The pair, from Stenhousemuir, own the ground floor of the building, but say their hopes are being hampered by the owners of the 12 flats above, who have been unwilling to co-operate on a schemes which would benefit everyone, especially the local community.
The building has lain empty for seven years, the top floors destroyed in a fire in 2005 whih left the building in a serious state of disrepair.
The businessmen say they have offered to pay for a new roof and make the building safe for future development, but other owners have simply not responded, causing a stalemate the frustrated brothers don’t know how to resolve.
Anil said: “We have estimated it will cost around £140,000 to get a new roof on the building, make it stable and redevelop our property.
“We have plans for five retail units on the ground floor. The building is beautiful and is a landmark in Bainsford and we want to keep it, not knock it down. We do not have the money to buy the upstairs floors or we would. Our hands are tied, we need help.”
Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn wants Falkirk Council to compulsory purchase the building and help redevelop it.
Neil Baxter, Secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), also said Falkirk Council should consider purchasing the upper floors and then working with developers.
He said: “If positive development is being inhibited then a compulsory purchase order is a perfectly acceptable and normal course of action. It’s the best solution if current owners are intransigent.
“This imposes a duty of care on the local authority who can sell on to a potentially beneficial owner. It is down to the will of politicians. No-one should have to suffer an eyesore and the local authority has the powers on behalf of local communities.”
A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We are fully aware of the issues concerning this building and our primary responsibility has been to ensure the property is kept safe.
“Unfortunately the council does not have the resources to upgrade the building by entering into any compulsory purchase arrangement or other scheme for the building. It is the responsibility of the owners to manage their properties and we hope they resolve matters in order to achieve a successful solution.”