Fire attack condemns church to demolition

David Bewsey at the church
David Bewsey at the church
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AN army church which was condemned two years ago will finally be pulled down after a deliberate fire caused the roof to collapse.

Local residents complained that St Margaret’s Garrison Church at Redford Barracks, which was hit by fire-raisers in the early hours of last Wednesday, had become a haven for drug abusers and a target for metal thieves.

Firefighters attended but the corrugated roof of the abandoned building – which contained asbestos – collapsed.

The Redford Road church, which is described as resembling a wooden hut, was de-consecrated in 2010 and was in derelict condition.

Following the fire the army carried out a leaflet drop to reassure neighbours that the asbestos posed no danger.

Air quality tests carried out by the city council are understood to have come back clear.

Now efforts are under way to pull the church down as soon as possible, with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation seeking the necessary consents to proceed.

Colinton Amenity Society’s David Bewsey said: “It was condemned a couple of years ago but, really, it is laziness of the part of the Defence Estates that it has not been taken down already.

“If the MoD didn’t need the church, the land could have been used for housing or sold off to a developer.”

Reports have been received of habitual drug-taking at the church, squatters and thieves looting it for copper piping.

The multi-denominational church was built on army land in 1956. Those who used it are being accommodated at Colinton Parish Church.

Colinton and Fairmilehead Councillor Jason Rust said: “The church was, in its day, used by members of the civilian community and was a support for the spiritual needs of the military garrison and its dependants, especially with regular deployment of our service people to operations abroad.

“However, since the closure it has become a real problem, being a target for metal thieves and drug-users and, in fact, being inhabited at times.

“The latest arson attack just adds to the necessity for consents to be granted as soon as possible so demolition can be completed.”

An army spokesman said the building was set to be demolished in the “near future” following a tender process.

He said: “St Margaret’s Garrison Church was de- consecrated in 2010. Following a deliberate fire, it will have to be demolished.”