THE re-opening of Abbot House came a step closer this week after councillors agreed to provide funding of up to £50,000 to help revitalise the historic pink building.

It is estimated that it will take £530,000 to turn the property into a major visitor attraction and cultural hub for Dunfermline and funding pledges totalling £370,000 have already been made with a further £55,000 application likely to be decided next month.

The newly established charitable organisation, the Abbot House SCIO, wants to breathe new life into the attraction which shut its doors over three years ago.

Renovations have already been discussed with Fife Council and Historic Environment Scotland and work will include the installation of a lift to the exterior of the building and new toilets inside.

Once restored, they plan to reopen as a cultural and tourism hub, a cafe and restaurant, events space which will also promote traditional skills and businesses.

Community manager Gillian Taylor told members of the City of Dunfermline Area Committee on Tuesday that SCIO were working hard to get the Abbot House back open.

She said: "There is a business case and the people behind that have done work with Fire Station Creative and made that a successful model so they are experienced at working in Dunfermline and pulling together business cases.

"They are keen to see it opened as quickly as possible. Obviously there are planning issues around the building which will take time. The charity are very actively looking to secure the final bits of funding with a view to opening in the near future.

"The business model is to be a self sustainable enterprise and will operate and donate a portion of profits to the maintenance of the building."

Dunfermline Central Councillor Alan Craig expressed caution about the plans and said the committee may need to consider some kind of annual commitment to ensure the project's success.

"Trading companies have been used for things in the past and not quite made it – that is the problem for me. It is hard to make business out of tourism.

"This sort of thing needs to be maintained. At the end of the day, they are providing a service and encouraging people to come to Dunfermline. We may have to consider being involved in it on a regular basis with revenue funding."

Dunfermline North Councillor Ian Ferguson added: "We know from experience that it is a struggle for anyone to make a profit – I am concerned that if a portion is going into the maintenance of the building, in the long run we will have a challenge in a few years time because lots of people have tried it in the past.

"If it has happened previously that the trading company doesn't work. What happens? We had to fight hard to get Abbot House back in the Carnegie Trust's hands because the previous ownership became a mess, I am nervous that might happen again."

Committee convener, Councillor Helen Law, said re-opening Abbot House would help re-establish Dunfermline as a top class tourist destination.

"There’s a real local commitment and drive to reopen the building," she said. "Abbot House is a beautiful and historic centrepiece to the Heritage Quarter, which incorporates the Abbey, Palace, Galleries and Pittencrieff Park and it’s important for Dunfermline that we make the most of our heritage."