Moray Council has agreed to invest in the renovation of four unique Elgin properties, currently held in trust, to the tune of £271,000.
The council is the Trustee of two cottages at Ladyhill in Elgin and eight Victoria Diamond Jubilee homes on Victoria Road in Elgin.
The Ladyhill cottages and two of the Jubilee homes are currently vacant and require extensive work to bring them up to modern standards.
The four trust properties will now be leased to the council for a minimum of 20 years to ensure full recovery of the refurbishment costs.
The council will bring the properties up to lettable condition and take on the responsibility for allocations, management and maintenance for them through the Housing Revenue Account.
This includes £116,000 for the refurbishment of the Ladyhill Cottages and £155,000 for Jubilee Cottages.
Chair of Moray Council’s Corporate Committee, Cllr Bridget Mustard, said:
“These unique properties will offer tenants a special home in the heart of Elgin.
“Having lain empty for almost 20 years, the Ladyhill Cottages upgrade in particular will be a welcome boost for the iconic area of town.
“Refurbishing historic properties to bring them back into use is a positive move for our wider housing stock and I wish the new tenants the best of happiness in their new home when the time comes to move it.”
The Ladyhill Cottages were gifted by the Right Honourable Sir Archibald Williamson MP for Moray and Nairn in 1919 to the former City and Royal Burgh of Elgin to be held in trust for the benefit of “suitable persons”.
The two category C listed cottages, together with an area of garden ground, open space and access and approach to Ladyhill are held in the trust.
The bequest being made in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, the original trust deed states preference for tenants to be: ‘ex-sailors, ex-soldiers or ex-airmen of the national forces should any apply and be approved by the Trustees; and if possible, to natives of Morayshire or Nairnshire.’
The council will give reasonable preference to applicants for housing who satisfy these criteria however is entitled to consider other households if necessary.
The Jubilee Cottages were built by the City and Royal Burgh of Elgin in 1897 as a memorial to the Diamond Jubilee Year of Queen Victoria. The cottages are also Category C listed.
In March 2017, the six mid-terraced cottages were renovated to provide assessment and rehabilitation units, which are currently managed by Health and Social Care Moray.
At that time, the two end-terraced cottages were still occupied by tenants.
Under the terms of the Trust Deed, the Jubilee Cottages are to be used as far as possible ‘as dwelling places or homes for poor people of respectable character who are unable otherwise to provide comfortable homes of a similar class for themselves.’
In selecting the tenants, the trust deed includes provision that preference is to be given applicants in the following order: ‘(i) To old married couples and the survivor of them provided the survivor is over fifty years of age at the time of death of the predeceased. (ii) To widows or elderly single females. (iii) To old men married or unmarried. (iv) In making the selection of beneficiaries … natives of the City and Royal Burgh of Elgin will have first claim and after them preference will be given to persons who for a length of time have resided in the City and Royal Burgh of Elgin and made an honest living there.’
The antiquated conditions give an interesting insight into the living conditions in Victorian Moray, however they are no longer deemed to be enforceable, and all properties will be allocated to tenants as the council sees fit.