Green light for two major projects

Bearsden Burgh Hall
Bearsden Burgh Hall

Plans to refurbish Bearsden Burgh Hall and Kilmardinny House in Bearsden were given the green light at a planning board meeting on Tuesday.

The Burgh Hall, on Drymen Road, will be transformed into a community hub facility which will bring together a range of council services under one roof.

Kilmardinny House, Bearsden'.

Kilmardinny House, Bearsden'.

The £3m plus development will contain new public meeting rooms, social work facilities and public toilets and includes the re-provisioning of the library and community archives from Brookwood into the existing ground floor of the main hall, as well as enhancing the current hall facilities by creating a new fully refurbished upper floor. Work on the new hub is anticipated to start in early 2016.

However, concerns have been raised about the design of the building.

Alan Oliver, from Bearsden, a member of the Champions Group which was involved in the design process, is angry that the new halls will have a reduced facility - they will only accommodate 199 people - a reduction from 250.

The group’s suggestion for a balcony/roof terrace to extend the capacity and enhance the facility was rejected by East Dunbartonshire Council.

Another Bearsden resident claims that the new hub discriminates against disabled people.

Hamish Guthrie (64), whose disabled son sometimes needs to use a wheelchair to get around, claims that wheelchair users and those with mobility issues may be put at risk.

He says it will be very difficult to evacuate these people safely and quickly in an emergency from the upstairs of the building.

Mr Guthrie said: “This would limit people’s access to a public hall facility in Bearsden unless the council provides sufficient trained staff to carry out an evacuation.

“However, this will be expensive and may affect the project’s financial viability.”

Concerns have also been raised about the extension for Kilmardinny House, which is a grade A listed building.

Gordon Cox, convener of Bearsden North Community Council, says the extension is totally out of character with the rest of the building and won’t be very appealing.

Bearsden councillor Duncan Cumming attempted to get the Bearsden Burgh Hall application rejected at the meeting.

He also opposed the plans for Kilmardinny House, and said: “The local community does not support the plans for Bearsden Community Hub - they have been ignored, and the extension on Kilmardinny House is a carbuncle. They should have gone back to the drawing board. I think it will look dreadful. This was a missed opportunity.”

However, council leader Rhondda Geekie, said: “The development of the community hub is exciting news for Bearsden and will see major investment in the town centre. It reinforces our commitment to the area by providing vital public services at a local level.

“The network of community hubs continues to be a key aspect of the council’s transformation programme to continue to deliver customer services locally throughout East Dunbartonshire.

“They are at the heart of supporting town centre regeneration as well as delivering efficiencies and savings in our wider operating model.”