In this week's Councillor Column, Richard Trail, whose Helensburgh and Lomond South ward includes Cardross, writes about the uncertain future facing the former St Peter's Seminary in the village.

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St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross has never been far from controversy.

When it was first opened the muscular architecture called for the exposed concrete to be left rough finished. No smooth marble cladding; just the rugged concrete, with the grain of the timber formwork clearly visible on the surface.

Opinion was divided between the terrrible brutish greyness and a bold new statement in keeping with the rapid changes of the times.

I recall being on a school visit to this extraordinary building when it first opened and running my hand over the face of a column, struck by the fresh approach.

READ MORE: Government rejects plea to take former Cardross seminary into state care

The seminary had a very brief life as a working institution, falling foul of the changes taking place in the Catholic Church.

The overall appearance of the building was widely admired by some claiming it a masterpiece of modern architecture.

That view was not universally held and over the years following the closure the contrary view has grown as the building became the playground of vandals. The building was reduced to a mere shadow of its former glory.

The project by NVA, started in 2009, brought new hope that the building could be brought back into some use, albeit only partially.

READ MORE: Thousands visit Helensburgh for 'Hinterland' event at former seminary

NVA put on a sound and light event, Hinterland, in 2016, in which groups were guided round in the early evening darkness to see the main parts which had been cleared of rubble and debris.

While it was a magical experience for some, it left others unconvinced. Indeed some of my colleagues on the council voiced some uncomplimentary remarks.

The Hinterland event did expose one of the major weaknesses of the site: that access for vehicles is severely restricted. Visitors were bussed from the pier car park in Helensburgh to the seminary.

Now the Scottish government has declined to take the building into ‘state care’ from its owners, the Archdiocese of Glasgow. The cost of restoration was estimated at £13 million and is judged prohibitively expensive.

An opportunity is now open for someone to come forward with a plan for this building, described as Scotland’s greatest building since the Second World War.

READ MORE: Dismay at doubts over St Peter's Seminary restoration scheme as NVA announces closure

A new road from the A814 round the back of Cardross would transform the access to the site, and would make it possible to accommodate a much larger number of visitors.

It would be a tragedy to let it sink back into decay and ruin.