The decline and fall

A potted history of the Abbey Church courtesy of Buildings at Risk

December 1994: The church is no longer in ecclesiastical use, although roof repairs have been carried out recently as the building continues to be used for temporary non-ecclesiastical uses. September 1995: The church appears for sale. January 1999: SCT understands that the church has still not yet been sold, although a local community group is attempting to raise funds to use the church as a community hall. Refurbishment and conversion is estimated at £300,000. The building is now floodlit as part of Town Centre improvements. 8 November 2001: The Berwickshire News reports that the Cockburn Conservation Trust has secured £900,000 in grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the rengeneration of Dunbar via a Townscape Heritage Initiative. The restoration of the Abbey Church is likely to form part of the regeneration package. January 2002: Local planners are unaware of any change. 18 October 2002: The East Lothian Courier reports that the church has been awarded £2,655 towards a feasibility study into its conversion as an arts centre. Funding is coming from Viridor Waste Management, who use a proportion of monies generated from landfill tax to finance environmental projects. The feasibility study is being conducted by Forward Scotland, and is scheduled for completion in December. 23 January 2004: The East Lothian Courier reports that Dunbar Townscape Heritage Initiative has been awarded £900,000 of Lottery funding, raising hopes that the church will be restored. The Musselburgh News repeats the story.

May 2008: A member of the public reports that the Church was up for sale through Retties in Edinburgh and is thought to have been sold, possibly around 2001.

May 2011: External inspection finds no significant change from the previous site visit. Concerns remain over the close proximity of trees to and loss of stones from south facade and the general water penetration from roof and downpipes. Planning permission and listed building consent for alteration, extension and change of use to form 1 house were granted in Jan & Feb 2011 ref: 09/00983/P & LBC.

June 2011: A member of the public reports Abbey Church has now been placed on the market for sale with Graham & Sibbald Surveyors/Commercial Property Agents in Edinburgh – Offers Around £250k.

October 2011: Planning permission and listed building consent for alteration and conversion to form 1 house were lodged Aug 2011 ref: 11/00704/P & LBC.

15 April 2013: The former church and the associated hall are being marketed for sale through Future Property Auctions as one lot, guide price £95,000.

17 April 2014: Listed Building Consent for alteration and extension to form a dwelling has been lodged with East Lothian Council ref: 14/00137/LBC.

8 October 2014: External inspection finds the building remains in much the same condition as seen previously with general decay continuing.

6 February 2015: Local planners note the property is been marketed for sale, at a guide price of £32,000, through Future Property Auctions on 10 Feb 2015.

24 March 2015: BARR is contacted by the new owner of the property – having purchased the site at auction – they are now considering options for the restoration of the former church.

6 March 2019: Local planners confirm a roof collapse occurred at the property following a period of high winds in Dunbar. East Lothian Council is working with the owner to secure the site. Condition moved to Very Poor.

7 June 2019: Roof has collapsed. Walls remain intact. Some windows blocked. Encroaching plant life.

7 May 2021: Local planner advises the interior has mostly been cleared of debris from the fallen roof. The remaining walls are understood to be “structurally” sound.

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