From the BBC website:
It is one of Dumfries' most prominent buildings. Greyfriars Church - now St Bride's - has stood proudly at one end of the High Street for more than 150 years. It could now be set to find a role few would have imagined when it was completed back in the 1860s.
A funding package has been put in place to explore the creation of LGBT-friendly housing on the site - particularly aimed at older members of the community. Dumfries and Galloway Council is keen to encourage town centre living, the church is struggling to meet its running costs and it could help what is seen as a vulnerable group.
Leading the project team is Dr Belle Doyle who said the scheme was at a very early stage. "It is more or less an investigation of whether we can do it," she said.
The trustees have been looking at ways to make the "really iconic" building pay for itself.
The church would continue to operate, possibly with a smaller footprint, with the property to rent built at the back. "The idea was to build something at the back that would pay a bit of ground rent or something to keep the church going," explained Dr Doyle. However, as a category A listed building, there are quite a few hurdles to be cleared. "From the front of the building, if you were standing at Burns Statue, you shouldn't be able to see any development that was happening at the back of the building," she said. "That vista would not be disturbed at all."
Town centre living
Dr Doyle said that they wanted the housing project to be something a little bit different. "We wanted to make it kind of special, in a way, that we could invite a group to think about how they could live in the town centre and what would be a vulnerable group we could approach that would actually find that useful," she explained."I've been involved with the LGBT group in Dumfries and Galloway even before it was called LGBT. "I know a lot of people who, even though they love living in the area, people are getting older, they are getting slightly more isolated." She said she believed the attractions of town centre living might appeal to them.
"Here is a vulnerable group that would definitely seize the chance of living a more urban lifestyle," she said.
They are working with a housing association on the plans which they believe could become a template for developing redundant churches or ones struggling with their upkeep.
The idea would be to create something "cutting edge" at the back of a historic sandstone structure.
"The most important thing for us is people are very positive about the housing and the fact they are in the middle of Dumfries," said Dr Doyle.
"Obviously you would want people to be open and friendly to their neighbours regardless of who their neighbours were.
"There is not much of a social life which is why LGBT people have always gravitated to cities because there is a kind of 'critical mass' almost.
"If there is a large enough group you become the majority, you are taken seriously at that point.
"It is not just one or two people and they are isolated and you can bully or intimidate them."
Ian Barber and Dyfrig Hywel, who are members of the project board, said they believed there was a need for the housing." One type of people that might be living there is the elderly - people having to go back into the closet when they go into care," said Mr Hywel.
"We have got other people who come out of the closet in their 60s when their parents die. Despite the huge progress in society they are still really, really vulnerable people. There is also a huge issue with older LGBT people and care," added Mr Barber.
"People coming into their homes to deliver personal care not realising they are LGBT, not realising the other person there is actually their partner.
"Having to move into a care home or nursing home - there are still all sorts of issues. The development at the church is trying to, in some way, answer those needs."
More links on the news story can be found here on the LGBTLife website and here on the Scottish Journal.