Scottish Government Give £1.35 Million Funding For Whithorn New Town Hall Project

A New Town Hall project at Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway has been granted over £1.3m from the Scottish Government, following a three year pursuit of funding by the volunteers, who run the “All Roads Lead to Whithorn” charitable trust.

The project is for a completely refurbished, environmentally-sound, community hall to the front, with a new mezzanine devoted to bespoke area for a boxing ring and public gym for fitness. Below are brand new commercial-scale kitchens and flexible hall space, to accommodate the community’s favourite events such as the old folks’ dinner, the flower show, school concerts, and many new events we hope to attract.

To the rear will be a walkers’ bunkhouse in a separate new-build annexe, designed to service walkers and cyclists travelling the 149 mile Whithorn Way, which starts at Glasgow Cathedral.

The business model adopted by the Trust is that the letting income from the bunkhouse will serve to keep gym and hall costs lower to suit local pockets and keep the Trust sustainable.

Julia Muir Watt, Secretary of the charity, said that “We’re delighted that the Scottish Government accepted our argument that, together with the development of the Whithorn Way, the development of the New Town Hall is a strategic project for the South West of Scotland through sustainable tourism, which can be deployed to support community facilities and keep the social and economic fabric of our town together. The funders also accepted that the overall concept of wellness, mental and physical, embodied by the Hall and the walking route, are attuned to current priorities both of people and of Government.  The project has taken considerable effort and resilience, to overcome disappointments, continue to lobby authorities and funders and keep going with what we knew was a good and viable idea. My thanks to the All Roads directors, thus far, for undertaking the risk on this and other large infrastructure projects for Whithorn; these are not for the faint-hearted, but we know that communities now have to take the lead in development of their towns and villages”.


Currently, the Hall is all but closed, after the Council made the decision that cost cutting measures meant that they could not continue to fund the running costs of the Hall. Emergency funding was sought from the Holywood Trust to allow Whithorn’s championship-winning boxing club, The Bravehearts, to keep the use of the hall for practice, in what have sometimes been freezing conditions.


Now the plans will go forward for consent, and public drop-ins held to revisit the plans, first shown to the townsfolk in 2017 and now being readied for planning, after the charity was again fortunate in securing Town Centre Capital Fund grant late in 2019 to fund the architects and technical experts.


The funds come from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, a national fund for which there was fierce competition. Two other D&G projects also received funds. The Holywood Trust and Hugh Fraser Foundation have already committed to the Whithorn project and the directors and the Council are now pursuing other funding commitments for the rear annexe. The award of the £1.35m, it is hoped, will act as a catalyst for other grant aid.


The All Roads Trust is also currently developing plans for the former Grapes Hotel, as affordable and highly energy-efficient rentable housing in the town centre. Business development of the walking route is being undertaken by the Whithorn Trust, which is launching an app for walkers within the next few weeks and is encouraging businesses on the route to join up for free. The development of the walking route is also expecting a welcome boost from the Hall funding award.  .https://www.whithorn.com/business_app_4526/


Julia Muir Watt said : “It seems, with the new South of Scotland Agency and Borderlands funds, new advertising campaigns for the South of Scotland as a destination, as well as the numbers of strong community initiatives with innovative ideas and plans, that the next few years are looking bright for Whithorn and other communities in the South, which have always been looked upon as a hard case for economic development”.


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