Concern over state of a Cupar church hall

George Coull beside entrance to Old St James Church Hall, Castle Street, Cupar

George Coull beside entrance to Old St James Church Hall, Castle Street, Cupar

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SERIOUS concern has been expressed about the state of a former church hall surrounded by houses in a conservation area of Cupar.

George Coull, whose home in Castle Street sits opposite the old St James Church Hall, told members of Cupar Community Council that the hall now looked like something in “downtown Beirut”.

Recent vandalism and neglect has left the premises with many smashed windows, with fears that a child could become badly injured by broken glass.

Mr Coull, who is a member of the council, wanted to know if there were any plans for the building, which has lain empty for several years, since being sold by the church.

“The hall was probably last used about 10 years ago and it’s now in a disgraceful state with paint flaking off and broken windows,” Mr Coull said.

“It’s worrying to think that a child could accidentally put their hand through a broken window and cut themselves badly.”

Councillor Margaret Kennedy has now raised the matter with the Council’s development services, who will identify the owner and ensure that the building is made safe and secure.

She said: “It is extremely frustrating when empty properties are not developed quickly enough.

“The neighbours are left with an eyesore which drags down the area.”

She hoped that plans for the redevelopment would now come to light.

Fellow Cupar Councillor Karen Marjoram said: “It’s always a shame to see a once loved building lying empty.

“Planning permission was given in September, 2010, for this hall to be changed in use to become a dental surgery.

“This permission has a standard condition that work should start within three years of the date of granting permission, so I would hope that work would commence soon.”

She added that, in the interests of safety, the windows should be boarded up.

Independent Cupar Councillor Bryan Poole understood that there was an interest a few years ago in converting the hall into living accommodation, but that did not receive universal support.

“Sadly, if a building is left unused and unoccupied it either deteriorates or is abused - as seems to be the case with this building.

“Perhaps George Coull, as a member of the Community Council and near neighbour and who has an understandable concern for the future of this building could bring together those who live in the vicinity, along with the owner, and discuss options for bringing the building back in to productive use.

“If George was up for this, I’d be happy to work with him to explore the options.”