It is our understanding that if the shop sells fresh fruit and vegetables, regulations require there to be a sink to wash them in. The kitchen could be used to prepare refreshments to be consumed in the open space. We are committed to working in partnership with and would not want to jeopardise any existing business in the village i.e. Kilmartin Museum café or Kilmartin Hotel, so have no intention of setting up a café. This does not mean that refreshments can’t be served at events, for example Book Swap.
Our aim is to ensure that the facility is technologically robust to support a number of different events including visual and acoustic performances, touring theatre and training and lectures.
The church would be owned and maintained by Dunadd Community Enterprise on behalf of the community. The Enterprise is currently a company limited by guarantee and has applied for charitable status. The project will only go ahead if the business plan shows that it is financially viable as the community has already raised concerns that it should not be a burden to future generations. As the building is listed and is in a conservation area there are any number of specific issues that will need to be considered and included in any formal plans and as we go through the planning application process. The relevant experts will be engaged as and when required.
The number of people, the exact spec of seating and tables is yet to be decided. We would hope to enable the space to be used as flexibly as possible. This would involve using chairs that are comfortable, though not too bulky and tables of a style that can be put together in a number of different configurations. As previously mention, it is not our intention to set up a café, though refreshments may be available at events.
How can you secure the shop if the kitchen and WC are being used when the open space is in use?
We will be looking for innovative shelving and counters that can be secured (maybe with shutters?) when the shop is closed and access is required to the kitchen, WC and fire escape at the rear of the building.
As a rough idea we are working on around 60 seats. The final number would be determined by fire safety regulations. The number may also vary depending on any space required by performers, such as a portable stage.
How are you going to monitor disturbance to the graves caused by the impact of increased public use of the area by your proposed plans?
What percentage of any funding you receive will be used to protect the graves?
What considerations are in place currently for families with graves around the church building?
As you may be aware the graveyard is owned by Argyll and Bute Council. They have the responsibility for care of the graveyard now and into the future. They are aware that the Enterprise has no plans to purchase the graveyard. We too are concerned that any changes in the use of the building should not have a negative impact on the graveyard. Indeed we have already reported some vandalism that happened to the church over the last 12 months.
The council and Historic Environment Scotland have, along with anyone else, the opportunity to comment on any application for planning permission. They could also set conditions, if or, when planning permission is granted. It is important for us to work in partnership with both organisations to ensure that the planned use of the building is a positive addition to the area.
The anticipated additional traffic to the building would be down the main gravel path to the front door previously used by those attending church. The tower can be accessed by the path to the right when the rest of the building is not in use. The gravel paths are also owned by the council and they would have the legal responsibility for maintaining them, though we would do all we can to assist.
We will also do all that we can to discourage people from loitering amongst the graves. As far as the constraints of being in a conservation area allow, we will put up clear signage urging folks to be respectful of the graveyard. We would hopefully have bins at the exits to the building to discourage litter. We will need to work closely with the council to identify any issues quickly.
One of the things that we could do is to map the graves and display it in the genealogy centre, enabling visitors to easily find family members without wandering through the whole site.
The conditions for renting any space in the building have not yet been drawn up, but would undoubtedly include respect for the area immediately around the building.
It is unclear whether any increase in traffic to the building will increase the number of people visiting the historic grave slabs or wandering around the graveyard. The Church of Scotland estimated that up to 100 people a day, at the height of the season, were visiting the stone crosses within the church building, it is hoped that the facilities offered would encourage them to spend some money that could benefit the village.
The deadline for the next stage of funding from the Scottish Land Fund is August 2020 with a November 2020 decision. It is not clear if this funding will continue after that.
We have the funding to pay for the professional input we need for the application, if we do not carry on these local people will loose this income.
The shop study has shown that a post office is not a good commercial option. You can read the shop study here. Although it was included in some of the early plans, the Directors spent a long time discussing the space required for secure storage, the legal responsibilities, the training commitment and salary costs. It was decided that it would add a management and financial burden that could not be sustained.
The plan is to keep the crosses within the building so they can continue to be enjoyed by everyone. They create an important footfall all year round, but especially in the summer months. Where the crosses are positioned within the building will need to be negotiated with Historic Environment Scotland. We hope they will be in an area that is the most open to the public.
The layout in Options 1, 2 and 3 has been discussed in great detail by the Directors, during which time it became clear that these options would not offer sufficient income to make the project financially viable. Option 4 came out of these discussions as a way of getting the most use and the maximising the income from the building. It offers a community service through the shop, history, culture and arts through the open and first floor spaces and support for the local economy and economic development through the hubs on the second floor. The opportunity to see the glen from the top of the tower is a view enjoyed by very few up until now.
We see the shop as having two types of customer, locals and tourists. The questionnaire asks what kinds of things you think the shop should sell, how much might you spend in it and how often. This will give us a starting point, we would expect this to develop as we and visitors start to use the shop, so what it sells may develop over time.
We hope to record and show what everyday life was like in the glen over the past 300 years or so. If the church building project goes ahead we will be looking to form a group of volunteers to take this aspect forward, identifying funding, gathering information, working with partner organisations and identifying expertise to help and support us to tell the stories of local families and places.
It will be important to work with the museum to ensure that a complimentary and cohesive story of the area is available for visitors and locals. Hopefully the centre will be useful for those from near and far who are looking into their family history. Helping them to understand where and how their family members lived and where and why they might have moved on.
The aim is for the open space to be as flexible as possible. It will be available for use as a rehearsal space, for exhibitions, children’s parties and community events. It could include lighting and sound equipment that would enable concerts and plays to be performed. No decisions have been made about seating yet, it may well be stackable chairs as that would give the greatest flexibility of layout and use. The second floor does not extend across the whole roof space so as to make the most of the acoustics whilst also helping to generate some income from rentable rooms.
The conditions for renting any part of the building have not yet been determined. The Directors will do all they can to ensure that those using the building understand the importance of and have respect for the surrounding graveyard.
The layout of the second floor has not been finally agreed as we want to carry out more research into possible rental options. So far we have discussed the possibility of private office space for small local businesses to use. The rooms could also be used by therapists or as artists creative spaces. We are exploring the possibility of trialling small rent-able office space in the area to see what the demand might be.
This is one of the main concerns raised by you, the community at previous meetings, and is used as a key measure by the Directors. A business plan is being written that will show the potential viability of the project. It will be used by Scottish Land Fund and other potential funders when they are making decisions about whether to support the project. If the business plan shows that the project cannot be financially self supporting in the future it will not go ahead.
If we buy the building it is likely to take several years to get it up and running. We will need to secure funding, get planning permission, appoint builders and there will be a hundred and one other decisions to be made along the way. It will be a complex process as it is a historic building requiring quite a lot of repair as we go along and there are a number of partners who need to agree with what we want to do. We will bring in specialists where needed as we want to make the most of modern technology and make the building as energy efficient as possible to keep running costs down.
The old church is presently owned by an individual, and there is an agreement that gives us the first option to buy the building. Its difficult to speculate what will happen, however, we would expect that the building would go onto the open market.
Community Shares are a good way of gauging whether there is a genuine willingness in the community to support a project. They help community based projects build a capital fund to get projects started.
You do not get a dividend for your share(s) and cannot transfer them to other people, however you you can withdraw then at any point in time.
We are starting to look at this question within the business plan, and are considering that a share would cost £50 and we would like to raise £25,000 this way.
That roughly equates to £100 per household in Dunadd, however we would not expect every household to participate in the share option.
It is also worth noting that as our business planning gets more refined these amounts may change.
This stage of the consultation will run until 12th June (6 weeks) It maybe that the lockdown restrictions change during this time. If possible we will try to set up an exhibition where you can come and see the plans within the church itself, obviously complying with government advice to keep us all safe. We would need permission from the church’s owner to do this.
This consultation ends on June 12th. Sometime after that we will publish the business plan and ask our members to vote on whether to take the project forward or not. The timing for a members vote is uncertain at the moment as we are dependent on others to supply critical information.