Parish moves on new Camelon church plan

The former St John's Church which is to be given a new lease of life as Camelon Parish Church
The former St John's Church which is to be given a new lease of life as Camelon Parish Church

A congregation will launch a £2 million fundraising bid as members take forward plans to build a new church.

Planning permission has been granted for a modern Camelon Parish Church to replace the current building in Dorrator Road.

The church was formed in 2003 following a union between Irving and St John’s Parish Churches. Since then there has been a desire for a new facility which could be used by the congregation and the many community groups who are regular users of both church halls.

Last month Falkirk Council approved the plans drawn up for the new building. It will be on the site of the former St John’s Church in Glasgow Road.

Although the listed north facade will be retained, the remainder of the existing structure will be demolished and a replacement church will be built with new meeting rooms, hall and cafe. There will also be an access for vehicles.

Camelon’s minister, the Rev. Stuart Sharp, said: “We want to provide a modern facility for the congregation, the community and groups which is cheap to run and maintain and will have a long future.

“Before the planning permission was granted our plans were really at a standstill but this now puts us in a position to progress the project.

“Now we can go to the Lottery Board, other trusts and funders to seek support for what we want to do. Hopefully, our plans will be well received.”

He added that the kirk session would be seeking a meeting with the general trustees of the Church of Scotland in the coming weeks to draw up the correct timetable for taking the plans forward, as well as looking at how to “refine and define” the project.

The minister said: “We are still building new churches, probably about two a year, but it is usually where there is an expansion in centres of population. However, we are probably unusual in that we want to carry out such a radical redevelopment of an existing church with almost 95 per cent demolition.”

Over two years ago, the cost of the project was put at around £2 million but Mr Sharp said he was hopeful that the costs would not deviate too much from that figure.

There could be a boost if HMRC give the plans a reduction in VAT to five per cent compared to the normal level of 20 per cent. The minister said this could make a “significant difference” to the costs.

Camelon now has the biggest parish by area since recent changes to the presbytery which saw the Bantaskine community being added to its boundary.