South Ayrshire Council will have to come up with a plan B for fire-ravaged Belleisle House after no partner was found for its £12.5m plan to restore the historic building as a hotel.

The B-Listed building went up in flames in 2019 after a worker's blowtorch accidentally set fire to the roof.

The fire happened as the council were exercising an option to repurchase the building from the owner John Campbell who had bought it from them for £300,000 in 2012.

While works had been carried out on the property, SAC argued that it hadn't completed works it had promised and the council was able to buy it back at the same price it had sold for seven years earlier.

Having taken over ownership of the now gutted building, the council had looked at possible uses after planners and Historic Environment Scotland refused to give permission for demolition.

They advised the council to look at reinstating the building as a hotel or look at an alternative use.

When asked, the council would not specifically say whether any other alternatives to a hotel were examined, given the struggles in the hospitality sector.

Around a year ago, a report outlined options for renovating the property into a hotel/function venue with up to 20 rooms and 200 capacity function space.

Belleisle House in 2012
Back to Belleisle: How it looked in 2012 - the year it was sold by the council

They said that all of the options would cost in the region of £12.5 million, a figure which they believed would require a joint venture including public and private investment.

In June a tender for the plan was advertised nationally. But despite extending the original four week advert by a further four weeks, they found that no bids were forthcoming.

On Tuesday, October 26, SAC's Leadership Panel will hear that there were around 14 notes of interest, none of who made a formal bid.

Companies gave reasons for not making a bid, including some not willing to commit to a 25-year partnership with the council, others who did not have the level of experience for the nature of the contract, one which felt they did not have time to compile a business case and those who wanted to take on the development but not the operation of a hotel.

Councillors will now be asked to choose a way forward on the Belleisle project.

Having not tested the market to see whether a hotel was viable at this time, the report opens the door to undertake a scheme to gauge interest before using the results to go back out to tender.

They could also approach companies directly, having already carried out a competitive tender exercise.

More expensively, the council could pay out up to £30,000 to prepare a business case and undertake work on the building to make it 'more attractive to market'.

Also more costly at up to £50,000 would be a move by the council to obtaining planning permissions to develop the building and then put it up for sale with set conditions.

They will consider whether they simply re-run the tender exercise over a longer period at a time when 'confidence in the hospitality industry has returned.

The council l has set aside £1m in its capital programme for the Belleisle House project that would be used for these options.

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