An update on the old church building
I have heard it said that a rumour can travel right around the village before the truth has got its boots on.
Recently a rumour was reported to me that Historic Scotland had ordered the demolition of the old church building. The truth is more mundane and also more complicated. The old church building is owned by the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland but any costs involved with the building are the responsibility of the local congregation of Auchtergaven and Moneydie. The congregation have always wished to find a way to make the old church building safe and in some way restore the tower but we have been unable to pursue this plan because we have been in debt by approximately £0.5 million. The sale of the Manse in Bankfoot in March paid off the original capital of the loan but due to accrued interest we still owe in the region of £125,000.
Following an inspection of the old church building concerns were raised and a structural engineers’ report on the condition was carried out. Last winter’s stormy weather had caused further deterioration of the building, resulting in safety concerns and the fencing around the old church building was redone and extended to comply with the report’s recommendations. The structural engineer suggested that following another bad winter the tower may well be in danger of collapse or be in such a state of disrepair that restoration would no longer be possible.
A further report and estimates of the likely costs of the various options followed.
Option one:-Safely dismantling the building, keeping a waist high footprint of the tower. Moving the reusable stonework to a safe place of storage so that, if funds became available, something appropriate could be constructed on the site. Approximate cost £35K
Option two:-Safely dismantling the walls of the church and renovating the tower. Approximate cost £570K
The General Trustees indicated, that because of the urgent safety concerns raised in the structural engineers report, and the difficult financial situation of the congregation, they would only be willing to allow the congregation to borrow the money required for option one. The Kirk Session reluctantly agreed that we had no choice but to follow the advice of the General Trustees as in option one. And then on Saturday 10th September 2016 Perth Presbytery approved that decision.
This is just the first stage of what is likely to be a lengthy process. We need to get approval from Perth & Kinross Council and this will involve negotiations with, amongst others, Historic Environment Scotland. We may need further structural and other surveys and accurate detailed costing for the proposed works will also be required.
Our aim is still to enable the site to be safe and something that the whole of Bankfoot village can be proud of rather than the sad ruin that we see today.