A SIX-FIGURE donation will breathe new life into a dilapidated 18th century building in Dunfermline and turn it into a wedding and conference venue.

The Alfred Stewart Property Foundation gifted the cash to a Christian group to fund a complete revamp of the St Andrew's Erskine Church in Pilmuir Street.

The Yes U Are Partnership now own the building and promise the community hub and cafe will bring jobs and be ideal for exhibitions, performances and business.

The new venue will have a potential capacity of 800 people and plans also include community lets, arts and heritage facilities.

John MacDonald, the Yes U Are Partnership's development manager, said, "We aim to restore this remarkable building as a resource that people from every community in Dunfermline can use.

"The donation from the Alfred Stewart Property Foundation has been absolutely vital in getting the project up and running and we're extremely grateful for their generous support.

"The building has stood unused for a number of years and our immediate priority is to make it watertight - which we aim to achieve before autumn.

"We will then begin the refurbishment work which we expect to be completed within two to three years.

"The project will create a number of new jobs and will offer something different to attract people into the town." The project is set to reinvigorate Dunfermline and continue the trend of transforming historic, and empty, city-centre buildings.

Wetherspoon's will open a �1.1 million pub in the Guildhall building in High Street, parts of which are more than 200-years-old, while the art deco former fire station in Carnegie Drive is set to be an arts centre. Mr MacDonald added, "We will soon be discussing our plans with other organisations and neighbouring businesses to explore how the project can bring opportunities for traders, tourism and the West Fife community as a whole." The Yes U Are Partnership is a Dunfermline-based, multi-denominational Christian group that first expressed an interest in the old church more than five years ago.

They said they hoped to offer an alternative to the existing nightlife scene in Dunfermline, noting at the time that "it's a bit limited for those not interested in or too old or young for pubs and clubs".

Their plans were backed in January 2007 by then MSP Scott Barrie but JD Wetherspoon's received permission to open a �2million 'superpub' in the building.

The pub giant called time on their plans in December 2008, with the cost of renovating the old church thought to be the deal-breaker.

The donation - the exact sum has not been revealed - is the most significant investment to date from the foundation set up in memory of Dunfermline businessman, Alfred Stewart.

Gifford Bruce, managing director of the Alfred Stewart Property Foundation, said, "St Andrew's Erskine Church is a magnificent building and the partnership's vision to convert it for community use is extremely positive for Dunfermline.

"Alfred Stewart was determined to ensure that his legacy would support significant community projects in and around Dunfermline.

"This is a great example of the type of initiative the foundation is seeking to support and another important step forward for the regeneration of the town." The church is certainly in need of repair - it's on the Buildings At Risk register and its condition is described as "poor" and "vulnerable to vandalism".

Parts of the church, next to the Pilmuir Street entrance to the Kingsgate shopping centre, date back to 1798 and it was used by the Church of Scotland until 1998.

It became the Magical Kingdom play area but closed and has lain empty and boarded up for years.

Maggie Mitchell, chief executive of Dunfermline Delivers, added, "St Andrew's Erskine Church is a landmark property and the redevelopment plan should offer exciting opportunities for the town centre.

"It's important that a modern town centre has a diverse and vibrant offer and we're looking forward to working with the Yes U Are Partnership as their plans take shape over the coming months.

"The Alfred Stewart Property Foundation is already supporting the Bruce Festival and its generous donation to this project is another major boost for Dunfermline."