A LARGE church will be demolished as part of a blueprint for the future of a Larkfield parish.

Reverend David Burt, who took over as minister of St Ninian's late last year, says the church is in such a poor state of repair that it will have to be bulldozed.

It is hoped that the hall could be kept and transformed into a community hub.

Rev Burt says the building, which opened in 1960, was erected as an 'extended charge' at a time when churches were expanding into housing estates.

He said: "The church can accommodate 300 people but there's been a decline in membership over the years and it doesn't warrant the space.

"The heating is gone, there is a problem with the roof and it is rotten in places.

"The building needs to go."

Devoted congregation members were still worshipping in the foyer of the church prior to lockdown in March before the Covid crisis finally closed it down.

Mr Burt says one of the potential solutions would be for a housing association to buy the land for social homes and incorporate somewhere for a church to meet within the plan.

He said: "It is a huge site and we could utilise the hall.

"Another solution would be if we got an offer to buy the whole site and find somewhere else to worship."

The congregation linked up with Mr Burt's Old Gourock & Ashton Church in October and members now worship there, but Mr Burt says he is keen to retain a church presence in Larkfield.

He said: "There aren't many social facilities in this area."

The minister's previous charge was Hillhouse Parish Church in Hamilton which featured a thriving community hub.

He said: "We had 1,000 coming through the doors every week.

"We had different organisations and youth groups.

"The footfall has a knock on effect on the church."

Mr Burt says there is some money from the sale of the manse which could go towards refurbishing the hall.

He has held discussions with presbytery officials and general trustees but plans have been held back because of the coronavirus crisis.

He said: "The wheels are in motion and it's important that the people of St Ninian's know that we are not sitting still.

"We have had conversations on cost and figures."