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July 31, 2013

Killearn has cause to celebrate

European funding continues to be crucial for our sector. As the 2007-13 programme winds up, a great deal of energy is being expended in shaping what happens over the next six years.  There’s been much debate and some criticism at how these funds are allocated  – particularly directed at the proportion of rural funds  that gets hived off to farmers –but  it’s important not to forget the good stuff that happens.  Although LEADER funding attracts just 5% of the rural programme but it can still pack a punch – like this project in Killearn.


By Marie Sharp, Stirlingshire Observer

To see picture of the new centre click here

Killearn residents have had a first glimpse inside their new £1.7 million community hall after it opened its doors on Saturday.

The 200-year-old building has been given a dramatic refurbishment, including a new second floor being built in its main hall, a new cafe and additional meeting rooms.

The Village Hall Development Group bought the property from Stirling Council through the Killearn Community Futures Company and it plans to make the building not just the heart of the community but also a commercial business by hiring it out for weddings and functions.

The majority of the funding for the refurbishment came from the Scottish Rural Development Programme, which provided £1.4 million.

But development group chairman Brian Simmers said the work, which was five years in the planning, could not have been done without the help of the Clydesdale Bank, who provided a massive £650,000 bridging loan to cover the time it took between buying the property and the funding coming through.

He said: “Without the support and understanding of Clydesdale Bank we wouldn’t have been able to complete the refurbishment.

“Throughout the project the bank has always been flexible and shared in our determination to get it completed as quickly as possible.”

Central to the renovation was the installation of a second floor in the main hall, which means the spectacular views from the building’s high windows can now be properly enjoyed. A two-storey extension was built but the hall has maintained its popular badminton court and stage facilities.

Mr Simmers said the whole community should be extremely proud of their new hall and the work they have all done. He said: “This project has been enjoyable but challenging but we now have a hall which will benefit the entire community. Operating the coffee shop and attracting bookings for events such as weddings is a new challenge we look forward to.

Robert Gibson of Clydesdale Bank said: “It’s clear to see how much the refurbishment of the hall means to the people of Killearn because their passion is what started this project and got it completed.

“The hall is at the heart of their village so it’s been a pleasure to be able to support their efforts to turn it into a facility for all and a sustainable community enterprise for years to come.”