Halls Trust insists it hasn’t given up fight

The Victoria Halls - previously for sale, now set for demolition and replacement by flats.
The Victoria Halls - previously for sale, now set for demolition and replacement by flats.

Linlithgow’s moribund Victoria Halls could still become a real asset to the community instead of just a flats scheme.

That’s the claim of Victoria Hall Trust chairman Martyn Wade, who insists the strength of local opinion could one day bring the building – or at least part of it – back into community use.

That is despite the lack of any plan, or evidence of any progress towards producing one.

In last week’s issue we reported how planning permission has been granted to raze the dilapidated building and build flats on the site, with West Lothian Council noting that no alternative plan had been produced.

Last year the developer described the aspiration to turn the building into a community asset as “pie in the sky”, and while the Trust held an annual general meeting in July this year no further action has been taken.

The Trust’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since July, there’s no obvious way of contacting Trust members, and a contact number is out of date.

But Trust chairman Martyn Wade says the apparent lack of activity does not mean the Trust has given up.

He said: “The Victoria Hall Trust is still very much in existence, with a strengthened board and several hundred members.”

He says the site has lain derelict and “an eyesore” for far too long, and that while planning permission has been given for flats similar permission has been granted in the past but never put into practice.

Mr Wade added: “Our first preference, supported by many in the community, remains that there should be a community theatre/arts facility on the site”.

He added: “There is a role for the Trust to play until solid progress is made in filling this gap in the High Street”.

And he says a Trust website will be created and its Facebook details updated at some stage.

Last week Montreal Property, the Halls’ owners, gained planning permission to demolish the building by West Lothian Council’s Development Management Committee.

The firm was also given conservation area consent to demolish the building and planning permission for a mixed use development of two commercial units and 16 flats.

A council spokesman said: “The condition of the building has continued to deteriorate and is having a negative impact upon the character and appearance of the conservation area.”