A North-east church is celebrating being granted a community asset transfer to create a new hub in the heart of Ellon.
Councillors unanimously approved Ellon Baptist Church’s application to take on the lease of the vacant Ythan Centre on Station Road which previously housed Aberdeenshire Council’s Community, Learning and Development (CLD) service.
Under the five-year lease deal with the local authority, the church will consolidate its various activities and community classes in the one building which councillors heard would result in an increase in users and provide a much-needed boost for footfall in the town.
Council area project officer Donna Sutherland told the Formartine Area Committee on Tuesday that the church would use the building as a “community and religious hub” providing events, educational resources, classes and workshops to local residents of the Ellon area.
She said the market rental value had been assessed at £20,000 per annum, but following an analysis of the community benefits, officers had determined that a rental of £5,185 per annum was reasonable.
Until the council’s ongoing strategy to deliver new council offices across Aberdeenshire is finalised, it is necessary to retain the building as a strategic reserve.
Ms Sutherland added that the annual net ‘community benefit’ arising from the transfer was estimated at £14,815.
Committee chair Councillor Isobel Davidson said she “very much welcomed the proposal” and intimated that the community would be delighted to see matters progressing on the building.
Echoing those sentiments, Councillor Richard Thomson said: “I thoroughly endorse the recommendations for approval here. I know when all four of the local councillors were present to hear from the church about its future plans we were all very impressed.
“The Ythan Centre has been a tremendous asset to this town during its time and I very much welcome this new social and community use.”
In a welcome greeting to neighbouring residents and businesses, Ellon Baptist Church minister William Butchart said: “We are delighted the council has accepted out community asset transfer lease for the Ythan Centre.
“It is our heart to see this building used for the community once more. We know how central it was to lots of community groups in the past – including our church as well.”