New community bid for Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital

The Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital.
The Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital.
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RESIDENTS near the Capital’s Sick Kids Hospital have submitted a new bid to be given first refusal to buy the site under urban community right -to-buy laws.

The hospital in Sciennes is due to move to a new home next to the Royal Infirmary at Little France next year. And a community trust wants to use the land for affordable co-operative housing, healthcare, nursery facilities, social enterprise space and a multi-purpose community hall.

A previous bid by the Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT) was ruled not valid because although the 122-year-old hospital is being marketed as one site, it is owned by two separate organisations – NHS Lothian and its charitable trust, the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

READ MORE: ‘Stitch-up’ claim over Edinburgh Sick Kids sale

Now the trust has submitted two separate applications to the Scottish Government and under the terms of the legislation, the Sick Kids sale process has been paused while Scottish ministers decide if MSDT should get first refusal on the four-acre site.

Trust spokesman Nathan Bower-Bir said: “We are delighted to get our revised application submitted and are confident the Scottish Government will see the merits of letting the community take control of the Sick Kids when the NHS moves out.

“The past few weeks have involved an intense effort from our volunteers to clear up complex land ownership issues, but we have been sustained by the growing support for the bid from across the community.

“Our application sets out the exciting opportunities that the Sick Kids presents for the local community through urban community right-to-buy laws.

“The only way to ensure a community-led development focused on issues directly relevant to the people living in Marchmont and Sciennes is for our applications to be approved.”

When the hold-up with the community bid emerged, NHS Lothian said it would resume talks with others who had put in bids for the site and there were fears the land could be sold to developers before the residents got a chance.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs paid tribute to those who had worked on the bid.

READ MORE: Community bid lodged for Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital

He said: “There is significant community support across Marchmont and Sciennes for the community buy-out of this important site and a desire to see it utilised in a way that will maximise benefits for all local residents.

“The trust has developed a series of very positive and imaginative proposals that would add to the area’s amenity and local services.

“The Scottish Government was able to support Portobello residents in their desire to purchase the Bellfield Church and I hope it will be able to do all it can to provide similar backing to the Marchmont and Sciennes community.”

NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “The Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust contacted us earlier this year with a request for further information for their application, which we provided. We are currently submitting a response to Scottish Ministers in respect of their two applications.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com