Trust hope theatre dreams are still alive

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A community trust project still harbours ambitions of turning the dilapidated Victoria Hall building in Linlithgow High Street into a community space.

However, the owners want to knock down the remains of the hall and turn it into 16 flats and two retail units.

Scaffolding and investigation work began this week on the derelict building, with Montreal Property Ltd’s intention of bringing the front down once given clearance by West Lothian Council.

An administrative issue related to the “section 75” legal agreement has meant planning permission has not been finalised so work cannot go ahead yet.

The Linlithgow Victoria Hall Trust had a feasibility study carried out in 2015 which envisaged the hall becoming a theatre with an arts room, flats and retail units.

Two years later it still hopes it can be achieved through the possible use of the community empowerment act – should there be further complications with the development of the site.

The Trust has said it is close to reaching its target of 1000 signatures in support of the application to the Scottish Government in registering an interest in the land.

However, another concern from the Trust is the building is left as a “gap” site.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “It would be a disappointing outcome if the plans for 16 flats above two retail units were to proceed.

“Our primary concern today is that the building not be demolished without a clear commitment to build.”

John Cortellessa, owner of Victoria Hall, said: “It’s a perfectly viable project which we want to go ahead with, There is absolutely no reason why it should become a gap site.”

A spokesperson for West Lothian Council said: “Part of the draft conditions covering the demolition of the building was it could only be removed once contracts have been let for the redevelopment, to prevent it becoming a gap site.”