GREEDY investment firms trying to make a quick buck are leaving buildings in Dunfermline empty for years on end.

That’s the view of local architect Sam Foster who is part of a community effort to try and reduce the number of vacant properties in the town and bring them back into use.

He told the Press there was a “whiff of scandal” about the old registrar’s office at 4-8 Abbot Street, which was sold at auction recently.

Mr Foster said the property was sold for £75,000 and put on the market just days later for nearly THREE times that amount at £220,000.

Councillors and local groups have been trying to find out who the new owners are, but their identity is yet to be revealed.

However, it’s believed that a big investment company in London has taken it over.

Mr Foster, from Friends of Dunfermline and part of the Design Dunfermline team, said: “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen to a few of Dunfermline’s buildings now.

“This tactic of buying low and immediately aiming to re-sell for a much higher figure was also applied to the former Blossom restaurant, in Chalmers Street, a couple of years ago.

“Obviously it simply results in empty buildings laying empty for even longer, increasing the decline of towns like Dunfermline while the companies responsible artificially – and immorally – inflate their own net worth.

“It’s done by huge investment companies, mainly from London, who buy up properties in middling towns and for whom £75,000 is just a drop in the ocean.

“It simply means that they’ve added £220,000 to their assets even though in reality it’s not worth that.”

He said the former Blossom restaurant was sold at auction around two years ago for £125,000 and then the asking price doubled almost overnight. Recently a former bridal shop building on James Street was also bought at auction at the end of June for £114,000 and is now for sale for £185,000.

Mr Foster added: “Nobody with any common sense is going to buy those properties for those prices.

“It’s very hard for developers to make a return at the moment so it makes these buildings completely unattractive.

“All that’s happening is the company’s value is artificially inflated and it does nobody else any favours.

“It’s incredibly frustrating and unfortunately it’s a loop hole that is perfectly legal – there’s nothing that the government can do.”

Asked what the empty building in Abbot Street could be used for, he said: “The former registrars would lend itself to a boutique hotel or with the amazing views a high-end restaurant, which is exactly what Dunfermline needs.”

A spokesperson from Dunfermline Delivers said: “Many of Dunfermline’s town centre buildings are independently owned by pension funds, financial institutions and commercial landlords, some based in other parts of the UK or abroad. Absentee landlords have long been an issue in Dunfermline just as they have been in other parts of the country.”