Aberdeenshire Council was given first dibs on Peterhead’s Muckle Kirk – before passing up the chance to own the historic building.
The former kirk, which dates back to 1804, has been put up for sale by the Church of Scotland as part of a cost-cutting exercise.
The Maiden Street building sits across from the council’s own Buchan House base, and has been the venue for many weddings and christenings over the years.
Following discussions with the Church of Scotland, the local authority said it “felt it right to test the market” as there were so few empty properties for sale in the town.
But as the kirk is an A-listed building, council planners will provide guidance to potential purchasers on what could be done with it.
Local authority dropped kirk in favour of other Peterhead projects
The council said decision-makers instead decided to focus on developing the “Peterhead Cultural Quarter” instead.
That scheme received a £20 million UK Government funding boost this year.
The cash will be used to restore and revitalise the town’s Arbuthnot House as well as the Arbuthnot Museum and Library.
Arbuthnot House will be transformed into a new museum, library and “cultural hub”.
Meanwhile the existing Arbuthnot Museum and Library on St Peter Street will be converted into a venue with space for live entertainment.
Dance and music studios will be created on the upper floors of the building.
The spokesman confirmed public engagement on both projects is due to start in early January while stakeholder engagement will begin later this month.
He said: “Our focus remains on ensuring key buildings in the town centre under our ownership are supporting socio-economic outcomes for the town and wider area.”
What do residents think should happen to the Peterhead kirk?
News of the sale quickly became a talking point in Peterhead, with many voicing their sadness at the announcement.
However, some were quick to share their thoughts on what the future of the kirk could look like.
On a nostalgic Peterhead Facebook page, Val Buchan said the kirk had “great potential” and suggested it could be used as a base for youth groups like the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides.
She added: “It’s a part of Peterhead heritage, it’s a focal point.”
On the Evening Express page, Will Stuart reckoned it could become housing instead.
He stated: “Sure it will be snapped up by a building firm and made into flats as per usual.”
What do you think should happen? Let us know in our comments section below
But David Smith thought the building could remain as a place of worship.
He said: “The new owners could use it as a church. All they need to do is put the heating on and the lights.”
While Stuart Yule joked it would “make a cracking pub”.
Town councillor Stephen Smith remains optimistic the site can be brought back to life.
He said: “It’s an iconic building and part of Peterhead’s heritage so I hope a buyer can be found soon to bring the building back into use.”