A HISTORIC church at the centre of a row between the Kirk and a city council is to be restored to its former glory.
Two years ago, the then leader of Aberdeen City Council, John Stewart, said the Church of Scotland should be given an Asbo for failing to maintain the disused Greyfriars Church, next to the council’s new headquarters at refurbished Marischal College.
The A-listed granite church was branded an eyesore after it was left a dirty grey, while the Gothic building next door had a century of grime scrubbed off in a £65 million refurbishment.
But it has now been revealed that the church, on the corner of Broad Street and Queen Street, will be restored in a deal involving Optimus, an Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering consultancy, and an unidentified development company.
A spokeswoman for the oil company said: “The renovation project will also include cleaning the exterior stone walls to bring the original granite façades back to their original finish … and repairing sections of the roof.”
Plans for the long-awaited renovation of the church, designed by Marshall McKenzie and built in 1903, have been lodged with the council.
The plans include two glass structures within the interior to create three storeys of open-plan office space, while leaving the original building untouched.
The spokeswoman said: “The aisle, gothic stone piers, arches and windows, including the main north elevation large stained-glass window, will all be retained.”
Ian Bell, founder and director of Optimus, said: “The development plans for Greyfriars Kirk are very sympathetic to the iconic building. Essentially, it will involve erecting a free-standing steel and glass structure inside the building, supporting two floors of open-plan office accommodation, plus the existing ground floor.
“If, in the future, someone wanted to reverse the changes, it would be a relatively simple task.”
He added: “It remains an iconic city centre building, rightly A-listed, and we welcome the opportunity to put life back into a great piece of architecture.
“We would be proud to have it as our international headquarters if all the planning hurdles can be cleared and we can secure a long-term lease at acceptable terms.”
A spokesman for George Douglas Architects, the company behind the design, said: “The former church building became redundant several years ago and has been disused since then. It is now in a state of serious disrepair, with major water penetration from the roof.
“It is in need of major repairs and overhaul, including dry rot treatment, and which are urgently required to stop its current increasing state of decline.”
Optimus employs 90 people, of which 80 are based at its current Aberdeen headquarters in Carden Place.
The church was put back on the market 18 months ago after failing to reach its £1.2m asking price.