The convenor of the the Old High Development committee, Cliff Sim,reports on current developments:
As you will be aware we are in the middle of exploratory discussions with Birchwood Highland (BH) to improve parts of the Old High Hall to provide BH with modern offices, kitchen and toilet facilities.
This would involve converting the existing crèche room, the small hall and adjacent store into offices with a new separate entrance, accessed from the lane between the Penta Hotel and our building.
The present kitchen would become toilets and the adjacent room used by the choir and our handbells group would house the kitchen and be available as a common room or shared facility, as also the new toilets. The existing disabled toilet would remain. The old boiler room would be completely sealed off.
This would leave us with full use of the main hall and the present ladies and gents toilets, (just off Academy Street) one of which would remain with the other converted to storage and shared access to new toilets and kitchen facilities. If more storage was required this could be readily accommodated in the main hall at the kitchen end, with some suitable partitioning, as required.
Funding all these works from outside grant sources has proved negative so we have offered the opportunity to BH to cover the expenditure required for the full costs of conversion, separation of gas and electricity supplies, etc. In return they would pay an agreed annual rent, say £10K pa, with repayment of their outlays recovered from a reduced net rent over a ten year period. If BH costs were £70K annual net rent £3K.
We see this as an opportunity to improve our building, better equipped for the future,
and also of great benefit to a very impressive local charity which provides wonderful assistance to those with mental health issues. Possibly a win-win situation for us both.
We are applying for planning permission and change of use now but are fully aware that we still need the approval from both our congregation and Inverness Presbytery.
However we must look forward and we think doing nothing now is not an option so we have a chance to effect an improvement, while also helping a worthy local charity.
If this proposal does not proceed we will have to re-seal the hall roof and re-decorate the rooms at an estimated cost of at least £12,000, to be met from our own resources.
If any member has any questions at all or wishes more detailed information please apply to me as Convenor of the Old High Hall Development Group or any team member viz Jim Alexander, Jim Monro, Frank McCubbin, Rev Peter Nimmo and Margaret Sutherland. We also consult our Treasurer Sandy Cumming.
Cliff Sim, Convenor 1st March 2015