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Caithness News Bulletins September 2004

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CASE Offices In Thurso May Change Ownership To Raise Funds for Reinvestment


A marketing campaign has been launched to sell a number of properties owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).   HIE is currently marketing nine properties across the Network area, with the intention of leasing them back from the new owners.

The move is the first stage of a phased three to four year programme of substantial disposal of properties in the economic and community development agency's portfolio. In the current financial year, HIE expects the property disposal programme to raise around 5million, which the agency will re-invest in a range of strategic development projects across the Highlands and Islands.

The properties currently being marketed are all offices occupied by the HIE network itself. They are: The Enterprise Centre, Kilmory Industrial Estate, Lochgilphead; 24 Argyll Street, Dunoon; Tollemache House, High Street, Thurso; 12/14 Queen Street, Kirkwall; The Apex, Forres Enterprise Park, Forres; 69-71 High Street, Invergordon; Taigh Fearna, Lochalsh Business Park, by Kyle of Lochalsh; First Floor, Kings House, The Green, Portree; Taigh a' Locha, Lionacleit, Benbecula.

HIE owns more than 500 sites and buildings throughout the Highlands and Islands.

As the disposal programme continues, HIE will strongly encourage sitting tenants to purchase the properties they occupy. In situations where that is not possible, arrangements will be made with the buyer to safeguard the sitting tenant's position for a reasonable period.

Douglas MacDiarmid, HIE's director of global connections, said: "Reducing HIE's property portfolio is in line with Scottish Executive policy and will have three immediate benefits.

"As well as releasing significant sums of public money which can then be ploughed back into new projects, the sale will reduce HIE's own administrative burden and help to stimulate private sector property activity.

"It's a good example of HIE's continuing drive to target our resources as effectively as possible onto front-line activities and away from back-office functions.

"We continue to recognise the need to ensure that properties are available for new and expanding enterprises, and believe this can be achieved without HIE being a long-term landlord.

"With HIE's continued tenancy assured in the properties, we believe each one will make an attractive investment proposition for the private sector."

The marketing campaign is being handled for HIE by property management consultants Ryden.