The planned regeneration of Rothesay Pavilion has received a significant boost this week - just days before the biggest decision in the life of the project so far.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has agreed to invest £750,000 in the revamp of the famous building, designed in the International Modernist style and opened in 1938.
HIE announced its contribution just a week before the Heritage Lottery Fund board meets to consider a bid for almost £3 million towards the scheme - the largest single chunk of the funding jigsaw for the project.
Nick Merriman, chair of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity, which will manage and operate the building once it reopens, said: “This award is fantastic news. We are almost at the stage where all of the funding has been raised for the project, so we hope that soon the council will be able to formally approve the commencement of the building refurbishment.
“The Pavilion is a fantastic asset, and the charity is very much looking forward to taking over its operation after it is given a major makeover.”
The plans for the refurbished building, which is owned by Argyll and Bute Council, include four event spaces, a cafe, shop, offices for rent and accommodation for holiday rental and artist-in-residence programmes.
In the tourist season the Pavilion will play host to national and international music, comedy, theatre and dance acts, as well as showing major exhibitions of history, photography and visual arts.
The second space will be programmed by and for younger people, with local bands, DJs and comedians. In the off-season the building will have more of a community focus, and community sports and well-being activities will run in parallel all year round.
HIE area manager Douglas Cowan commented: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is delighted to support the redevelopment of this iconic building in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council.
“This project will ensure the sustainable use of an important building in the centre of Rothesay, amplifying the Pavilion’s role as a focal point for cultural activities for the community.
“HIE will continue to work with Rothesay Pavilion Charity to deliver the robust and sustainable business model, maximising the social and economic benefits from the redeveloped venue.”
The Pavilion project has already attracted financial support of £1.8 million from the council itself, along with £500,000 from Historic Scotland and £625,000 from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grants Fund.
Bute councillor and Argyll and Bute provost Len Scoullar added: “This is a significant step forward; it’s great to see things taking shape. This is a critical time for the project with a number of funding bids due to be decided, hopefully in our favour, and then we can look forward to developing a business case and the construction work starting.
“Should the money be in place the building is due to close in the autumn, with the fixtures and fittings being removed and work starting early in 2016.”
The leader of the council, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “This is great news for the project and the people of Bute. Should the further funding be secured the enhanced pavilion will become a hub for culture, tourism and sport, able to host major festivals and events, indoor sports, exhibitions, weddings, parties and conferences as well as providing a range of facilities for daily community use.
“This is a key part of the council’s investment in Bute and our ambition to stimulate the local economy and will follow on from the hugely successful Townscape Heritage Initiative, which has done fantastic work to restore a number of town centre buildings to their former glory.”
* The HLF board meets on January 27 to decide on the ‘stage two’ application for the Pavilion, although a public announcement on the fate of the bid is not expected until at least a week after the meeting.