THE MP and MSP for the Helensburgh area have both expressed their hope that a future can be found for the ruined St Peter’s Seminary building in Cardross.

MSP Jackie Baillie said she was disappointed to hear of a Scottish Government decision last week not to take the structure into ‘state care’ because of the cost involved.

And local MP Brendan O’Hara said that while he understood the decision in economic terms, he was refusing to give up hope.

The government’s decision cast fresh doubt on the future prospects for the building after the organisation which drew up plans for an arts facility at the site closed down last year.

READ MORE: Government rejects plea to save former Cardross seminary

A government-commissioned report from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) estimated that addressing the challenges to maintain the internationally-renowned, and Grade-A listed, building in Cardross and make it safe for public access could cost more than £13 million over 20 years.

The report persuaded government ministers to decline a request from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow, which owns the property, to take St Peter’s - venue for the hugely successful Hinterland sound and light festival in 2016, staged by arts organisation NVA, which closed down last year - into state care.

The HES report says the only option for the building looks likely to be ‘curated decay’ – a course of action which in itself is expected to cost more than £6m – though the government says it’s willing to hold talks with all interested parties to see if even that can be reasonably pursued.

READ MORE: Plan to save Cardross seminary collapses as charity says it's closing down

Ms Baillie said: “I was disappointed to learn that the Scottish Government have taken the decision not to take St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross into state care.

“I hope that, despite this decision, an effort will still be made to find an affordable solution for the building to ensure that it has a future.”

Mr O’Hara added: “In purely economic terms, this decision is perhaps understandable but my fear is that St Peter’s, one of Europe’s most important modernist buildings, a Gillespie, Kidd & Coia masterpiece of which we should be proud and should seek to preserve, will now be left to crumble. And that makes me very sad indeed.

"I have been a regular visitor to the ruins at Kilmahew and I had high hopes for a new future for the building when in 2016 NVA unveiled ambitious plans to turn the seminary into a permanent arts centre and community facility. Unfortunately they failed to materialise.

“Although I am not optimistic, I refuse to give up hope that perhaps working with other agencies, Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Archdiocese of Glasgow will find a way to save this wonderful building.”

READ MORE: New use for St Peter's 'not high priority for Cardross', says councillor

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Scottish Government has no choice but to accept the recommendations from Historic Environment Scotland not to take St Peter’s Seminary into state care, due to the risk and cost to the public purse it would entail to the detriment of other properties in care.

“We accept the report’s analysis that the only reasonable way forward for this site would be ‘curated decay’ and I plan to convene a meeting with all key partners to see if there is a way forward collectively to deliver what looks to be the only viable option for St Peter’s.”

The building was commissioned by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1958 and opened in 1966 for the training of Scotland’s Roman Catholic priests.

Hailed as one of the finest modern buildings of the day, and received the RIBA Architecture award in 1967. But it was used for its intended purpose for only 14 years – and has been systematically vandalised since it closed as a seminary in 1980.

READ MORE: Council chiefs pledge to work towards solution for former seminary site

Since its closure as a seminary in 1980, the building has been systematically vandalised and reduced to a ruin.

Advice from Historic Environment Scotland, published on Thursday, states that at least £6 million would need to be spent over five years, with further investment within 20 years, just to maintain the building and make it safe enough to allow limited public access – a process known as ‘curated decay’.

There have been a number of unsuccessful attempts to find a sustainable future for the building.

This included an ambitious project led by the Arts organisation NVA, which decided in 2018 not to proceed with its plans for an arts facility at the site in light of escalating risks.

NVA organised a hugely successful light and sound festival at the site, Hinterland, in early 2016, which attracted thousands of people from all over Scotland to the site.

READ MORE: ‘Hinterland effect’ has Helensburgh and surrounding area buzzing

Historic Environment Scotland was commissioned to advise the Scottish Government on future options for the building, and to give a view on the request by the Archdiocese of Glasgow that it be brought into the care of Scottish Ministers.

The HES report stated that the site is “challenging from a conservation, safety and access perspective”.

The report concluded: “Having considered all of the issues, our advice is that we could not recommend that Ministers intervene by bringing St Peter’s into care as a Property in Care.”