Plans are unveiled to convert former Bute church

PLANS to develop the former St Ninian’s Church in Port Bannatyne into eight residential units have been put before Bute Community Council.

The B-listed building – which held its last service in March of 2006 – was sold on the open market seven years after the congregation chose to unite with the churches of Ascog, St Brendan’s, High Kirk, Kingarth and Kilchattan Bay to form The United Church of Bute.

There have been numerous applications over the years to convert the church into housing, but all have been withdrawn as they were deemed by Historic Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department to be ‘unsympathetic’ to the nature of the building.

The original plans, for seven town houses and two dwelling houses, have been revised, and the new application is for eight housing units, with all existing entrances retained, windows split on stone pillars for minimal intrusion to existing window features, large roof glazing to the penthouse and roof lights for other properties.

The applicant, Mr Bill Taylor, also proposes to remove an extension at the rear of the church, built to provide a kitchen space but which covered up an original window which is still in situ and is to be retained.

Donnie MacLeod, who deals with planning matters for Bute Community Council and also lives in Port Bannatyne, told The Buteman he fully supports the plans for the former church.

Mr MacLeod also warned that the authorities need only look to the former Rothesay West Church, which has lain derelict since its closure in 1979, for an example of what may lie in store if plans for St Ninian’s continue to be rejected.

Local councillor Len Scoullar told us: “I would be supportive of any development at St Ninian’s which was sensitive to the Conservation Area status, and would in the long term protect a beautiful and historic building.

“This would ensure a lasting future for what I think is a very special and iconic structure.”