Council leader John Alexander has welcomed ideas from campaigners looking to preserve Dudhope Castle but admitted fears some of the proposals could be “unrealistic” in the short term.
Friends of Dudhope Castle, the group which launched the campaign to preserve the building after councillors agreed to put it up for sale, had written directly to Mr Alexander for his support.
The group has already suggested several ways that the castle could be used for the benefit of people in the city, including as a spiritual home of the Scrimgeour clan, a ghost trail centre or a space for art and sculptures.
In response to the group’s letter, Mr Alexander responded by saying he had received numerous emails from Dundonians on the matter.
His letter read: “The contents of those emails have been uplifting and passionate, in many instances.
“I really do welcome the range of ideas and suggestions that have come forward. I would, genuinely, love nothing more than to be able to take some of them forward but for the council right now, that is not realistic.
“From the outset, I should be clear that all councillors, irrespective of the political hue, agree that Dudhope Castle is a beautiful and historic part of the city. There is a rich and lengthy history which continues to be celebrated to this day.
“I should also say that there was a passionate discussion during the course of the committee in which councillors, again of all political hues, asked that every option be considered – not simply a sale.
“The council remains open to alternatives and is having dialogue with national bodies as well as welcoming interest from charitable organisations or others who may wish to explore community asset transfer or lease.”
He added that the long-term safeguarding of the castle was a primary focus, irrespective of who operated from the building.
“As a council, this fantastic building no longer works for us as an office environment, and we must consider how we can protect the integrity of the castle whilst also not landing the city with a significant cost which is unsustainable,” he said.
“As we wrestle with the realities of Covid-19, the council is trying to balance huge costs with vital services such as education and poverty support.”
Frances Smith, a member of Friends of Dudhope Castle, has welcomed the council leader’s letter and believe it shows the group is being taken seriously.
She said: “I think the letter is encouraging and shows that the council understand the historical value of the castle and it’s importance to the people of Dundee.
“If a community asset transfer was to go ahead it would need a group of highly skilled and professional people from the community to come together in order for that to be successful.”