Johnston school plans win £250k
Christmas has come early to Kirkcudbright with news that the Johnston Primary School redevelopment is finally to go ahead.
A £ 250,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation means the Kirkcudbright Development Trust could have builders in by Easter.
The award caps two years of hard work by consultants the Creetown Initiative to bring the ambitious plan to fruition.
Project manager Andrew Ward said: “This takes us to a point where we can say it is all systems go.
“The Wolfson Foundation grant means we are up to just short of £2 million. The architects have now been given permission to progress and we are looking to go out to tender in the new year. “We hope to be on site by Easter.” The new multi-use community facility will transform the boarded– up building. Star billing will go to a Dark Skies Visitor Centre.
Commercial ventures include a gin distillery and visitor shop, together with a pottery business.
The revamped building will also become home to Kirkcudbright preschool, a drop-in youth centre and a 40-person capacity social letting space.
According to Mr Ward, the stargazing hub will be a major draw for visitors and locals alike.
He said: “I think the Dark Skies Centre and Planetarium is going to attract tens of thousands of people every year into Kirkcudbright.
“Museums and art galleries are all fantastic but there is a lack in provision of youth activities in the town at the moment.”
He added: “We have raised in excess of £2 million for Kirkcudbright in a relatively short time.
“Every room in the building has now been taken up.”
Trust chairman Lesley Garbutt was thrilled the project had the green light.
She said: “It is what we have been waiting for for so long. There is nothing now that can stop us.
“I’m sure the community will be delighted with the news. People have been asking and asking is it actually going to happen.
“Now we can finally say it is. This will be a boost for everybody.
“Hats off to Andrew Ward and the Creetown Initiative because they have made this happen.”
Other funding applications for “certain aspects” of the project were still pending, Mrs Garbutt said.
She added: “Kirkcudbright is booming now generally but having the Dark Skies Centre will give a real family aspect to visiting the town.”
Community facility Work can get under way at the former school