A village hall is to undergo major refurbishment which could cost upwards of £300,000.
Residents have had significant concerns about the Montgomerie Hall in Dundonald after the heating system broke down last autumn, restricting use of the facility by the community.
South Ayrshire Council said that they identified the problem in October 2022, with water being disconnected due to the pipes being ‘past their working life’.
This has restricted the events that the venue had hosted, including Floyd’s Community Hub, a welcome space set up during the pandemic.
This facility has been forced to move to the smaller church hall.
The community had expressed fears that it could be closed.
Mike Newall, the counci’s depute chief executive, told Dundonald Community Council that the much needed refurbishment would start later this year.
He told the packed hall: “The work will be quite extensive. We are going to be replacing all of the heating system and improving the insulation.”
Once the contractor has been selected and is on site, the work will take around 12 weeks, with completion around November this year.
Mr Newall added: “The building will not be available for use due to the extensive nature of the works.
“This allows the work to be completed as quickly as possible.”
SAC Asset Manager Tom Burns added that the council was using its property refurbishment budget along with money it has set aside to cut carbon emissions.
He said it was a ‘big piece of work’ that he hoped would see the hall become ‘almost unrecognisable’.
The refurbishment will see replacement of the electrics, heating and hot water, expansion of the fire alarm, new radiators, piping and windows and kitchen ventilation. Solar panels will also be installed on the roof.
Mr Newall agreed to a request to delay the start of the physical work on the building until after Dundonald Highland games, which will be using the venue at the beginning of August.
Another resident pointed out that the running of community halls around the country has been transferred to communities.
He said that, given the financial pressures South Ayrshire Council finds itself under, could they guarantee that the hall would still be run by the council in five years’ time.
Mr Newall replied: “No, I can’t give that guarantee. There are no plans at this time to close the hall and, to come back to your point about community – such a transfer is an option right now.
“If this hall is improved dramatically, it is something you may want to consider.”
He was also asked whether the council would listen to the community if they are opposed to any future transfer to a single charity or organisation.
Mr Newall replied: “Yes the council does listen’.
Mr Burns added that the asset transfer process was ‘prescriptive’ and required significant consultation. He pointed to the community asset transfer of the village’s visitor centre and the level of consultation carried out then.
Another resident asked how safe the hall was at the moment?
Mr Burns responded: “The hall is at the end of its of life expectancy and we would prefer it to be closed as soon as possible if I am being honest.
“The building is safe at the moment but if we leave it any longer there could be issues. That’s why the decision has been taken.”
Mr Newall also confirmed that the hall would be available for use up until the work begins.
He said: “We are in a situation where it won’t need heating as much. Yes, it is an asset we would like the community to enjoy.”