The elected members of Wigtown Area Committee have given the green light to The Whithorn Trust’s plans to turn the New Town Hall into a £1.8 million state-of-the-art hub for community, sport and tourism activities.
At their monthly meeting in Stranraer on Wednesday, councillors unanimously agreed to recommend to the Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Policy and Resources Committee that the hall be transferred to the All Roads Lead to Whithorn Charitable Trust for a nominal sum.
The Trust are applying to outside bodies to raise the substantial funding required to renovate the 122-year-old building. The Trust is now into the final shortlist of 12 projects, out of an original 500, the National Lottery are looking towards funding.
The Trust wants to create a fitness and walking centre for both the community and visitors to Whithorn’s internationally important heritage, with additional flexible spaces for community use, as well as creating a new mezzanine sport suite and new ‘pilgrim’ bunkhouse to the rear.
The ideal for the project came after consultation with the community revealed the need for more employment opportunities for young people in the town; better inter-generational working; more sports facilities, especially for the award-winning Bravehearts Boxing Club; more events which included all age groups; more ways of both participating in and enjoying Whithorn’s heritage as the first Christian base in Scotland and more ways in which that heritage could give rise to opportunities for local people.
The costs breakdown reveals that refurbishing the existing hall will take £423,000; construction of a mezzanine floor £260,000; a new bunk house construction £325,000; external works, drainage and services £75,500. Adding in the preliminaries (contractors costs) of £130,100 and contingencies and development risk at £121,400, the total construction costs are £1,335,699.
Whithorn Trust spokesperson Julia Muir Watt said: “We received news yesterday from Community Assets Scotland ( Lottery) that we had been accepted among a small group to go forward to full application stage. The original applicants numbered about 500 across Scotland, cut to 66 who received site visits and interviews ( like us) and then out of these, they selected the final group to go forward. Potentially, if we were successful ( with a lot of work), this fund could be worth up to 1 million. There is a signficant match funding requirement still, but we have made enquiries from SportScotland and others, such as DG LEADER, and we are now on a schedule to get other funds applied for and - we hope - confirmed.
“Still a long way to go, and it’s a significant sum to raise, but I think we have a good case and excellent support across the community and user groups. The boxing club and its significant track record of winning medals will be the main attraction for Sport Scotland, but there are other elements, such as community fitness suite and pilgrim bunkhouse, which attract other types of funding.”