A DIRECTOR of the charity running Abbot House said they were "perplexed" not to be considered for any of the £5 million of Levelling Up money.

Joe McGuinness, who is also a trustee of the heritage centre, said they were overlooked by Fife Council who will splash the cash on St Margaret's House, Fire Station Creative, Tower House and Dunfermline Learning Campus.

Abbot House have plans for a visitor centre and learning suite and he told the Press: "I'm slightly perplexed we weren't consulted.

"No-one has come to us.

"We have a shovel-ready project, it's been costed up and we sent the details to Cllr James Calder, the chair of the area committee for Dunfermline.

Dunfermline Press: There are plans for a £50,000 learning suite and visitor centre at Abbot House. There are plans for a £50,000 learning suite and visitor centre at Abbot House. (Image: Newsquest)

"He very kindly directed us towards some Covid recovery funding that we can apply for but that has to be match-funded.

"So where do we get that from?"

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Mr McGuinness continued: "An allocation from the £5m would solve our problems in one fell swoop and in that context it's not a large amount of money, we're looking for £50,000.

"We do appreciate there's time pressure to get this money spent but, unlike the four projects they've chosen, we do have a shovel-ready project if someone would care to come and talk to us."

Abbot House is the oldest house in the city.

It's thought to date back to at least the 15th century and was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire of Dunfermline in 1624.

Used as a heritage centre, it closed in August 2015 amid financial problems and doubts about its future.

Abbot House re-opened, under a new charity and a new team, in October 2022 after a £600,000 renovation and boasts gardens, a cafe, gift shop, workshop, Go Escape room and studios.

Dunfermline Press: Abbot House re-opened in October 2022 after a £600,000 renovation. Abbot House re-opened in October 2022 after a £600,000 renovation. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr McGuinness, who was previously the council's locality manager for Dunfermline, said: "If you're talking about cultural infrastructure, Abbot House has to be right up there as a significant historic building smack bang in the middle of the heritage quarter.

"We're trying to tell Dunfermline's medieval story, which is not getting told by anyone else, and our learning suite is designed to teach youngsters about Dunfermline, going way back to the beginning.

"And having a visitor centre would allow us to take people up the stairs, show off these magnificent frescos and murals and also protect them, as there are parts which are hundreds of years old."

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Cllr Calder told the Press: “We are actively working with Joe and Abbot House to help them secure funding for their project.

"The Levelling Up funding has been provisionally allocated by the UK Government for cultural projects in the city and we welcomed this at last week's cabinet committee.

"As is normally the case, there are strict criteria and timescales involved so decisions on eligible projects had to be taken quickly."

The four projects to be submitted to UK Government were recommended by the area committee.

New cultural spaces will be created in St Margaret's House, Fire Station Creative and Tower House while a performance plaza is planned for Dunfermline Learning Campus.

Cllr Calder added: "There are other projects and proposals that don’t meet the Levelling Up funding requirements but, as part of a 10 year investment plan to achieve a cultural vision could secure alternative funding or be included in subsequent phases of UK or Scottish government funding, and we are keen to work with organisations in aligning with these projects.”