The cost to East Renfrewshire Council of converting an A-listed building in Newton Mearns into a centre for excellence to help children recover from traumatic experience has almost tripled.

Councillors have agreed to spend an extra £780,000 on a project which will see Capelrig House become a “pioneering” ‘Childs House for Healing’.

The council has been working with charity Children’s 1st on Scotland’s first Barnahus, an internationally recognised approach, first developed in Iceland, to protect children’s rights to justice and recovery.

An initial £418,000 allocated to the scheme is now “insufficient”, a full council meeting was told, but officials recommended continuing as the project is “of significant importance”.

We previously reported that a lease for Capelrig House was initially agreed with the charity in 2021 but progress has stalled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of inflation on the construction industry.

On further inspection, officials reported the whole scheme could now cost £2.3m, up from an initial prediction of £880,000. East Renfrewshire Council’s contribution has increased from £418,000 to £1.2m.

Council chief executive Lorraine McMillan said the charity’s costs have increased “roughly the same level as ours have”. 

An official said the council will “provide the building and make it wind and watertight” while Children 1st will “fit out” the property. 

It was revealed some funding could be secured from the Scottish Government which has “created a board to look at developing this”.

A council report stated the increased cost was due to “construction inflation and the need for additional work that was identified during detailed inspection”.

“It should be noted that this work would be required irrespective of whether this project went ahead,” the report added. Officials said Capelrig House had also been vandalised, which resulted “in a need for further work”.

The centre for excellence would be “the first of its kind in the UK”, the report stated, and would develop methods to be shared nationally so “no child victim or witness ever has to endure long delays to secure safety, care, justice and recovery”.

Child victims or witness interviews will be pre-recorded and the video sent to court. Court appearances could also be carried out by video link and medical attention will be available on site.

East Renfrewshire Council’s work on the building could be completed by December, which would then allow Children 1st to complete the refit. It is estimated the charity will pay between £1m and £1.2m.

The proposed lease for Capelrig House is expected to be for 19 years and 364 days at a rent of £1 per year if asked..