A FORMER church which has been home to a dance school for nearly a decade could be turned into four flats.

Haddington School of Dance and Music is looking for alternative premises due to the spiralling costs associated with keeping its home at the former Newton Port Church up to standard.

Continuing expense maintaining the building has led to a planning application for four flats being submitted to East Lothian Council’s planning department by the business, which offers a range of dance classes, including hip hop, jazz and ballet, to a wide age group.

A supporting statement included within the planning application highlights the difficulties being faced.

It reads: “The necessary modernisation of heating, electrics and plumbing, together with roofing, prevention of water ingress and ensuring safety from falling masonry, has been a recurrent expense.

“The owners are proud to have restored the building to the current level.

“What were thought to be initial major renovation expenses have, however, continued year on year.

“The building is due for further major works of damp proofing and roof repairs to the extension.

“There are several areas where water ingress has never been fully stopped.”

The building, which opened its doors as St John’s Church of Scotland in 1838 before more recently being used by the congregation of St Mary’s as their church hall, has also been repeatedly targeted by vandals.

Lead has “repeatedly” been stolen from the roof, while the sky lights have been “damaged repeatedly”.

The document adds: “It has become clear that the ongoing costs of keeping the building wind and water tight, safe and up to modern standards for the current purpose are not a viable prospect for the future for the school.

“The winter heating costs are prohibitive and the current school director cannot continue to run the school with accumulated losses.

“The losses are entirely due to the upkeep of the building.

“The current owner of the school is now considering how best to continue to provide the community amenity into the future.

“She considers that this specialised service will be best provided in a modern, easily maintained studio space. That could take the form of an industrial unit large enough to house the theatre rigging and studio equipment.

“She and her financial partners must now consider the best way to ensure the old church building is not left to fall into disrepair and are in talks with East Lothian Council planning department considering appropriate conversion projects.

“Separately, she is seeking a more appropriate space to run the dance and music school.

“She hopes to find a place where drop-off and parking are easier for parents, especially in the winter months.”

Two of the flats would be accessed from the rear, with two upper flats accessed by the existing double doors at the front of the building.