Councillors on West Lothian’s Asset Transfer Committee agreed to back the transfer of the empty building and support a two year fundraising project by the church to carry out the £1.5 million worth of improvement works needed for the building. The committee also agreed a grant of £76,000 to fund a team to drive the project forward and raise funds to run and invest in the building following the agreed transfer for the sum of £1.
The church will now have to take a final decision on whether to go ahead with the project
Low Port, an outdoor activities centre built in the 1970s, had latterly been run by West Lothian Leisure Trust. It gave notice to quit in early 2021 as part of its own restructuring plan. The building was mothballed in June last year and marketing options considered.
The church wishes to expand its community activities throughout the week and move to premises that can be used more flexibly for those purposes. In a lengthy proposal document it outlined the practical and social benefits of taking over Low Port as a community asset.
Aside from church worship, St John’s would use Low Port for associated activities and groups including toddler groups, a community cafe, youth groups and a monthly meeting club for seniors. Other groups that will be accommodated in the Low Port include the New Well charitable group, the ladies choir, sporting groups, youth groups and art classes.
Additionally the church would work with organisations to work to alleviate poverty in the town including 1st Step and strengthening links with the West Lothian foodbank, The food network and the CAP debt centre.
A report to the Asset Transfer Committee concluded: “The asset transfer request submitted by St Johns is considered to represent the best available option for the use of this property. There are considered to be no reasonable grounds for refusing that request.”
Linlithgow councillor Sally Pattle told a meeting of the council’s Executive: “Can I just say how delighted I am about the decision, it’s something we have all been rooting for in Linlithgow.”
St John’s Church has been a presence in Linlithgow since the early 1900’s and owns a church building in the town’s Union Road.
The church has outgrown that building and regularly uses Linlithgow Academy for Sunday morning services.