Former church could be set to climb new heights

A landmark former Elgin church that was aiming to become a children’s nursery could become a new Mecca for climbing enthusiast throughout the north east.

The former Elgin South Church on Moray Street was first purchased from the Church of Scotland in 2006 by Jo Maunder, who had planned to convert it into a nursery – but had to abandon the idea when Scottish Natural Heritage demanded replacement of iron work outside the listed building.

A second plan to turn the building into six flats did gain planning permission – with the site put up for sale at £120,000 after change of use and building warrants had been gained.

However, with the economic downturn putting these plans on hold Ms Maunder has now launched a bid to turn the building into an indoor mountain sports centre.

A new planning application has been launched by the Mosstowie resident to create a 35ft climbing wall, a cafe and changing rooms in the building, allowing climbing enthusiasts an all-weather base to safely practice their skills.

The plan is the result of two years research by the owner, who aims now to invest £250,000 in converting the building. She said: “As soon as the weather turns in Aviemore the options for climbers in Moray are very limited.

“The reaction I’ve received is that there is a definite demand for this centre and it would be really well used. I’ve also spent time going to other climbing walls across the country to see what’s on offer and have identified a company who would build and install the wall.”

There is an indoor climbing wall in Moray based at Speyside High School but that is only available for limited periods in the school term.

Councillors are expected to consider the application in September – details can be found on the Moray Council website.

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