A historic building in Peterhead could be saved from demolition after a potential buyer contacted the council.
Glenugie Business Centre and a neighbouring property on Windmill Street have lain empty since 2016 after being put on the market for £450,000.
Although bidders have shown interest, asbestos in the former North School building have prevented any projects from moving forward and councillors were told earlier this year the only option was to knock down the building and market the cleared site.
But now Aberdeenshire Council has confirmed it has accepted in principle a purchase offer which could save the building.
Members of the Buchan area committee discussed the proposals in private, but it is believed they suggest the retention of the former school building, which was built in 1877.
Committee chairman Norman Smith said: “Although it is very early in the negotiations, we were in full agreement that this offer be accepted which, we hope, will include the retention and redevelopment of the historical former North School.
“We are under no illusions as to the scale of any potential development of these premises and I would urge patience within the community to enable the purchaser to formulate their plans.”
Peterhead North and Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan welcomed the news, and said: “I’m delighted that a purchaser has come forward at the eleventh hour with an acceptable offer for the old North School.
“The old school is one of Peterhead’s iconic buildings and this will hopefully see it saved from demolition, although negotiations with the purchaser will have to take their course and redevelopment of the building itself will be a huge task. Nevertheless, I’m very happy that progress has been made and look forward to the building having a new lease of life.”
Previous plans for the building included creating a full-time nursery for young children with a hall that could be leased to groups for evenings and weekends.
However, after the deal fell through, members of the Buchan area committee agreed this year that the most financially viable option was to demolish the buildings, clear the site and then market it to potential developers.
Councillors heard that it is currently costing the local authority £37,000 every year in holding costs for the vacant properties. This is expected to rise as further deterioration in the condition of the building occurs.