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Image: Banknock Community Centre - already at advanced stage of Community Asset Transfer

A total of 25 Council buildings could go on to be given to community groups and clubs across Falkirk as part of the Strategic Property Review (SPR) if Councillors approve plans later this month.

A report to the 31 January Council meeting will recommend that officers progress with a plan to pass on properties the Council no longer requires to groups interested in taking them on.

Millions of pounds are available to improve the facilities for things such as new boilers, upgraded roofs and solar panels to help the community operate the buildings more efficiently in the future.

Interest has been submitted for properties including the Grangemouth Stadium, Polmont Ski Centre, as well as 14 Community Centres such as Bowhouse Community Hall, Limerigg Community Hall, and Banknock Community Centre.

In addition, groups have stepped forward to look at pavilions such as Inchyra Road, while the Muiravonside Country Park Cafe, and the Callendar Park Kiosk and WC now have commercial operators.

In further positive news, it is suggested the Stenhousemuir Gym is given an extra year to prove it can develop a strong business case for retention.

In a similar vein, the Carron Gymnastics Centre has seen improved financial performance and there is interest from a local group in taking the property on.

As a result, it is recommended this property is given further time to maximise the opportunity for it to be retained in the longer term.

A total of 64 properties have not seen any sustained interest and are recommended for closure. This would deliver savings of nearly £1m in 2024/25. In addition, the SPR will reduce the Council’s carbon footprint by approximately 2316 tonnes - approximately 15% of all Council property carbon emissions.

It would also avoid the Council from having to invest millions of pounds in backlog maintenance in properties that are no longer critical. The most significant of these is probably the Bonnybridge Community Centre which requires more than £1m of repairs to remain operational.

Malcolm Bennie, Director of Place Services, said: “It is really positive to see how community and sports groups have come forward to show interest in taking on Council buildings across the Falkirk area.

“It is still early days but transfers of this scale would be as large as anything seen across Scotland, and this just shows how strong our local communities are in Falkirk.

“Funding is available to support the groups, and officers from various Council services are available to assist them with applications and business cases.

“A number of buildings are identified for closure and while that would be a shame the reality is the Council does not have the funding to make the necessary repairs on those properties. In many cases, the buildings are no longer fit for modern service delivery, and are inefficient to operate. Importantly their closure will help us move towards a carbon-zero position for the Council.

“Reducing the number of properties that Council operates from will also allow what investment we do have to go on a smaller number of buildings including schools which should improve their quality and sustainability.

“It is now up to elected members to decide if this is the right approach to take for the future of the Falkirk area.”

You can read the full report here