Endangered property gets a Council makeover

A beautiful Ballochmyle sandstone building in Catrine’s Conservation Area and dating from 1903, is all set for a new lease of life, thanks to the determination of its owners and help from East Ayrshire Council’s Town Centre Vacant and Derelict Buildings Grant Scheme.

19-25 St Germain Street, a three storey tenement which houses 6 flats and 2 commercial units, is the first property to benefit from the Council’s brand new grant scheme, aimed at restoring buildings which are at risk or subject to Dangerous Buildings notices due to their poor state of repair.

Originally commissioned by the Co-Op in 1903, the building was designed by William Newlands and Gabriel Andrew, who was the “retained” architect for Johnnie Walker & Sons at the time. In recent times, as with many aged buildings, it had fallen into disrepair. In March 2012 a Dangerous Building Notice was issued, meaning that a structural engineer was appointed to carry out regular inspections and make recommendations.

The main issue lay with the balustrades on the first and second floor which give access to the flats via open fronted balconies at the rear of the building. The owners and tenants had to be evacuated while the engineers designed and installed a temporary system of props to allow safe passage until the balconies, which had come to the end of their structural lifespan, could be replaced.

In the meantime, the owners of most of the 8 properties within the building got together, set up a Trust and deposited funds in a bank account to contribute 50% of the costs of the £62,000 project which is being carried out, in accordance with a design drawn up by CMS Structural Designs, by Donald Reid & Sons, a local building firm.

The work, which is due to be completed in mid November, was welcomed by Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure, Councillor Jim Roberts. He said: “In East Ayrshire we’re blessed with a legacy of beautiful historic buildings, but sadly as they age they become more expensive to maintain. As a result some fall into a terrible state, with repair costs well beyond the means of their owners.

“All building owners have a responsibility and duty of care to keep their buildings in a fit state of repair, and while many owners have made great strides with the restoration of buildings in specific town centre locations thanks to our Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS), we are all conscious of other buildings in our communities which are in desperate need of attention and in danger of demolition. This is why we set up this Vacant and Derelict Buildings Grant Scheme, to help save our most at risk buildings and safeguard them for the future

“19-25 St Germain Street, Catrine is the first such building to benefit from this new scheme which will allow us to step in and help lessen the impact of poorly maintained buildings on our streets.

“In this case the owners have been very keen to work with us to save this building. Without their own contributions and co-operation with us, it eventually have been necessary to evacuate the upper floors, making the occupants homeless.

“The scheme will bring the building back into a safe condition, with the replacement of the two access balconies, repair and renewal of cast iron gutters and downpipes and partial replacement f the ground floor shop roof. A future maintenance plan for the building will also be agreed.”

“Having this limited fund available has been a huge help in this case, and we’ve already committed funding to a number of other projects. While our funds are restricted, we do have a team of dedicated regeneration specialists within our Planning Service who are happy to advise on what grant funding and expertise may be available to help owners come to a good solution for their own properties.”

For more details about the new scheme and other funding available contact: Planning and Building Standards, Tel: 01563 576790, Email

The East Ayrshire Town Centre Vacant and Derelict Building was set up to
help property owners or community groups as potential owners of
eligible buildings within town centres to:

• remove, in the case of a building subject to a Dangerous Buildings Notice, the potential danger to the public
• enable (or assist with) the repair and continued use or re-use of listed and unlisted buildings in conservation areas
• in the case of unlisted buildings out-with conservation areas to enable or assist with their repair and continued use or re-use or, if justified, their demolition and clearance and to undertake, where appropriate, site landscaping

The details of the grant scheme including eligibility have been designed to
• complement the East Ayrshire Community Plan (2015-2030)
• integrate with the provisions of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act
• support the implementation of Community Action Plans
• provide targeted assistance to local community organisations, property owners and residents.