Plans to convert church into £2.7m mountain bike centre

PLANS for a £2.7million mountain bike and activity centre at Cathkin Braes have been revealed.

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The project, to turn St Martin's Church in Castlemilk into the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike and Activity Centre, launched its funding bid at Glasgow City Chambers yesterday.

Designed by Elder and Connor Architects, the centre will include changing rooms, a cafe, a climbing wall and community facilities including a performance area.

It will convert the existing B-Listed church, which was built using community funds in the 1950s, into a state-of-the-art centre in time for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games when Cathkin Braes will host the mountain bike competitions.

The church is currently standing empty after being decommissioned around two years ago.

Now, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, in partnership with Ardenglen Housing Association and Mitchellhill Community Group and with support from Glasgow City Council, plan to raise the funds to convert the church.

Maureen Cope, chairwoman of Ardenglen Housing Association and Mitchellhill Community Group, was involved in the original "Shilling a Brick" campaign to raise funds to build St Martin's.

Due to dwindling congregation numbers the church was closed down, but now Maureen and the local groups can see an opportunity to reinstate it as a community centre.

Maureen, 66, from Castlemilk, said: "It is just the change of pace in life – the congregation had reduced dramatically and the church had to shut but it would be nice to see it getting used again.

"I think it is absolutely fantastic, the opportunities are great, the church is going to be used for a different purpose but it is still going to be there and the whole local community is going to get the benefit of that."

The council is backing the project, which they say will create a legacy from Glasgow 2014 .

Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said: "I think the plans are fascinating and the opportunity that we give to local community for me, as one of the elected members in the area, would be ideal to develop employment, healthier lifestyles and to bring back into use what was a very used building – to bring it back to life again."

Councillor Archie Graham, executive spokesman for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, added: "Everything is in place for 2014 itself, but what we are looking at here in this project is a legacy project which will be there for many years for the benefit of Glaswegians."

The design of the building aims to maintain the exterior of the church, and build inside it to create an 800sq m multi-use space.

Changing rooms, a cafe, a 6.5m high climbing wall and other areas will be built on different levels within the church and a large window overlooking the city will be built.

There are also plans to create a cinema-like space where local groups could perform theatrical pieces or show films.

Tom Connoly, director at Elder Connor Architects, said, if funding could be secured, he hoped they would be able to open the centre in late spring, next year.

He said: "The core idea is for this to be a spectacular space.

"It is a gateway to Cathkin Braes, it is a gateway for the people to use the building."

The mountain bike trails, which officially opens this summer, provides routes of varying degrees of difficulty for beginner and more experienced riders.

Colin Hislop, 55, uses the cycling tracks and got involved in the project through his work with Adams and Duncan funeral directors who have a link to Mitchellhill Community Group.

He set up a Facebook page to gauge interest in a potential centre, and soon had around 2000 people accessing the site weekly.

Colin, from Hamilton, said: "The feedback I get is just so positive, they are crying out for this place to be up and running as soon as. They want it before the 2014 games."

For more info, visit www.facebook.com/ cathkinbraesmountain bikeandactivitycentre

matty.sutton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Hobbies and general interest

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