As the start of the next phase of works approaches, we realise there will be more questions emerging about the Rothesay Pavilion Restoration Project which may or may not have been answered before. For that reason, I thought I would use this column to tackle some of those questions, with a specific focus on the building project and funding.
Couldn’t we convert it into an old people’s home/hospital/hotel? No – the building isn’t suited for any of those things. It was built as a dance hall and venue and that is what it is best suited to be. Trying to convert it into something else would not be cost effective and it is highly likely that the current funders could pull out.
Why don’t we just let it fall down or knock it down? Because that wouldn’t solve anything and would still cost a considerable amount of money. Rothesay Pavilion is a Grade A listed building so simply letting it fall down is not an option and nor is demolishing it.‘Mothballing’ the building as a problem for a later date would also solve nothing; the current funding commitment could be lost, the cost of keeping the site safe and secure would be substantial, and we would still have an empty building at the end of the prom and no community venue.
Is it true that the council has sold it off to a private company? No, Argyll and Bute Council own the building and will continue to own the building, even after the work is finished – which is why they are one of the main investors. On completion, it will be leased on a full-repairing commercial lease, for 25 years to Rothesay Pavilion SCIO which is a registered charity.
Is it true that this project has been dreamed up by ‘off-islanders’ with little local involvement? The initiative to save Rothesay Pavilion came from island residents and has taken many years to come to fruition. A major public consultation happened with the local community in 2013-14 to establish what should happen with the building. The results of that formed the basis of the funding applications and plans. To date it has been led by Argyll and Bute Council as the owners of the building, in partnership with the Rothesay Pavilion charity which was formed in 2014 to run the Pavilion when it reopens. The board of the charity is made up mainly of local people who have a permanent main residence on Bute. This includes local business owners, arts professionals and charity officers. The board also has a small number of members who live mainly on the mainland but have a strong connection to Bute, and bring specific expertise to the project.