Fears over future of Victorian houses on Sick Kids site

The Royal Sick Kid's Hospital
The Royal Sick Kid's Hospital
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RESIDENTS fear a row of Victorian houses looking onto the Meadows could be bulldozed as part of the redevelopment of the Sick Kids hospital.

They say the buildings in Rillbank Crescent – which recently had their B-listing removed – form a vital part of the view from the Meadows and must be preserved when the hospital moves to Little France and the Sciennes site is sold for housing.

Marchmont/Sciennes community council is also calling for a health centre to be included in the new development, to help answer the shortage of GPs in the area, and a large hall or gym space which could ease pressure on overcrowded Sciennes Primary School and also be used by the community.

Douglas Rogers, co-ordinator of the community council’s planning action group, said the fact the Victorian houses – currently used as labs and clinics – had been de-listed meant they could be removed by developers without the need to go through the listed-building process.

He said: “It worries the community that these houses, which form an essential view of the site, are at risk.”

He said there was support for a new health facility to be used by GPs. “Given the NHS is selling the site, all they need to do is put in a stipulation that there has to be one.

“And there is a lot of support for something to help the school, which does not have a big enough playground space and their hall is not large enough for even half the kids to meet in.”

NHS Lothian confirmed last month the Sick Kids site, opened in 1895, was up for sale and a preferred bidder is due to be named by March.

Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson welcomed the promise by NHS Lothian to arrange a meeting between community representatives and the preferred bidder. “I think we can ensure the community’s views are heard,” he said.

Susan Goldsmith, finance director at NHS Lothian, said: “We understand the importance of involving the community in the sale of this historic site and want to reassure local people that their views are a vital part of this process.

“We have already held a number of community events where MPs, MSPs, councillors, members of local community groups, churches and local people have given their views on how they think the site should be redeveloped. These wide variety of views are being made clear to all potential purchasers of the site.

“No decisions have been taken yet. We will continue to do all we can to work closely with local people in order to ensure a fair, workable and prosperous future for the site.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com