Nov 9 2011 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
WORK has finally begun to improve the grounds of a run-down Coatbridge church branded “the worst building in North Lanarkshire”.
Contractors last week moved onto the grounds of derelict Dundyvan Church, close to the Time Capsule, to clear vegetation and debris from around the B-listed former church and manse.
A campaigning councillor is now hoping that the go-ahead can be given in the near future for the demolition of the eyesore building, which has lain empty for almost two decades.
Improvements have already been made to the Oxford Street grounds after North Lanarkshire Council stepped in to order action after the private site’s owners failed to comply with instructions.
Officials from the local authority will now be charging the owners for the cost of the work, and for the necessity to commission a structural survey.
Coatbridge West Councillor Tom Maginnis, who is also the council’s regeneration convener, is “delighted” by the improvement after conducting a long-running campaign over the issue.
He told the Advertiser: “The site clearance works have made a tremendous improvement already, but even that’s only window dressing.
“Things are now beginning to move and I’m hopeful that a decision will be taken in the near future to allow for its demolition.
“It’s been a long, drawn-out process but hopefully now others will come to that same conclusion and the right decision.
“As I’ve said before, this is the worst building in North Lanarkshire; it was magnificent but it’s been neglected and is now past the saving stage.
“I’d be sad to see it go – I was born only 100 yards away from this church and went to school round the corner – but I feel that demolition is the only option now.
“Although it would be nice to try to save the tower, it would tie up a whole side and make it not viable to carry out major work or housing development on the site.
“The building has been a source of great concern for the community so I’m pleased to see the contractors on site; but clearly, much more still needs to be done.”
Fire and water damage, plus a collapsed roof, are the main culprits for the poor condition of the B-listed century-old church.
It was designed by architect Alexander Cullen, constructed in 1905, and listed by Historic Scotland in 1977 largely due to its rare crown tower and spire.
An application to convert it into a nightclub was stopped after a petition was launched to oppose it, while another proposal to construct flats on the site was turned down.
Shirley Linton, who is North Lanarkshire’s head of planning and development, said: “This site does not belong to the council.
“Despite having engaged in discussions with the owners over a prolonged period, they have failed to meet several deadlines regarding work required to the property.
“We have listened to the concerns raised by local people and the local tenants’ and residents’ associations, and our officers have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to come to an amicable solution.
“The owners have made only token efforts to clear and improve the site; we will continue discussions and all costs will be recharged to them, and the site will continue to be monitored by building standards.”