A crumbling Perthshire church could be given a new lease of life, following a failed attempt to turn it into a boutique hotel.
The A-listed Old South Church in Crieff closed its doors to worshippers more than 20 years ago.
In 2014, its new owners launched a high profile crowdfunder campaign to help pay for an ambitious bid to convert the building into a 12-bedroom hotel.
But the appeal failed to reach the £1 million target, and the Coldswell Road property has been on the open market ever since.
Now plans have been tabled with Perth and Kinross Council to convert the church into nine flats.
Conversion would halt building’s decline
Applicant Daniel Webster, of Kinross-based Webster Developments, is in talks to take over the site from its current owners.
He has appointed architects McKenzie Strickland Associates to develop proposals for a “sympathetic” conversion into housing that will “retain the character of the historic architecture in order to realise unique town centre apartments”.
In paperwork lodged with local authority planners, project leaders say the proposal will halt the building’s ongoing decline, bring new residents into the town and have a positive knock-on effect for local businesses.
McKenzie Strickland Associates say the plan could be crucial for the survival of the church, which is on the Buildings at Risk register.
A spokesman said: “In its present state, the Old South Church is a wasting asset.
“It is contributing very little to the local community, or economy.
“It is not fulfilling its potential as a heritage asset. It is doing nothing, and is increasingly at risk.
“Only through appropriate use and reinvention can it not only secure its own survival, but also contribute – as it did in the past – to the benefit of the town of Crieff and the whole of Strathearn and beyond.
“After decades of various attempts to establish a viable and acceptable use for the church, all have ended in failure to date.
“It has become clear that a low-key solution will not work, with the investment required for repair, restoration, conversion and fitting out work and for future running and maintenance costs being just too great.”
The Old South Church was originally built in 1882 and was designed by architect JJ Stevenson in a Scots Gothic style with a three-stage tower and a spire based on Dunblane Cathedral.
The church closed its doors to worshippers in the 1990s. It was briefly used as an antiques gallery, but has stood vacant for 15 years.
The spokesman added: “Only significant commercial investment will secure the future of the church and any such commercial venture will require some sacrifices to be made and balances to be struck.”
Planning chiefs are expected to rule on the proposal in the coming weeks.