The redevelopment of a dilapidated Tayside hospital can finally get under way after government ministers granted planning permission.
Strathmartine Hospital, which is owned by Heathfield Ltd, is on the market.
But a £3 million bill was preventing plans to develop the site as permission was unable to be granted until the sum was paid to Angus Council towards education and affordable housing.
An undisclosed sum would also need to be paid to NHS Tayside as part of an agreement when the health board sold the hospital in 2005.
However, MSPs have now approved planning permission in principle for the redevelopment of the hospital site — despite the outstanding agreements between the owner, NHS Tayside and Angus Council.
It comes after Shona Robison wrote to Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, at the end of last month.
In a response to the Dundee East MSP, Mr Stewart said planning permission was granted in principle, subject to agreement between the landowners – a move thought to help bring them to an agreement.
Karen McAulay, who has campaigned to both preserve Strathmartine Hospital, and secure its future, said the move was a “very positive step in the right direction”.
She said: “(This agreement) either allows the owner or a new buyer a guaranteed development opportunity.
“In return, this will secure £54 million investment, the future of all of the listed buildings, cottages, the former chapel of rest and rose garden.
“I might be smiling.”
However, Ms McAulay added that there were signs of wear in the buildings that are still standing at the site, which have been damaged over the years by urban explorers, fireraisers and vandals.
In addition, fences which Heathfield claimed to have helped to prevent unauthorised access to the site have been damaged.
Ms McAulay added: “Angus Council told me they were concerned about ‘a crack’ in the admin block and that they had ensured the owner had fixed the holes in the fence and the buildings were boarded.
“You can imagine my utter confusion when I arrived to find a giant hole in the fence, walked on to site, found the buildings weren’t all boarded and the admin block is actually knackered.”
Robert Smith, of Muir Smith and Evans, agents for Heathfield Ltd, previously told the Tele that the lack of planning permission for development had created difficulty in terms of finding a buyer for the site.