Nearly four years ago a devastating fire ripped through Corstorphine Public Hall, destroying a vital asset at the heart of the community.
And now, after lengthy insurance negotiations, builders have moved onto the site in Kirk Loan to start clearing the area ahead of reconstruction.
But the team driving the re-build have issued a plea for the public’s support to close the £500,000 funding gap.
More than 100 years ago, the original hall was built by public subscription from the local community and so far individuals, groups, businesses, a trust and former residents have contributed to raising £1.2 million towards the rebuild – but charity Corstorphine Public Hall Co Ltd, the hall’s owners, need to reach £1.7m to ensure the building is suitable for the next 100 years.
Lord Provost Frank Ross, who sits on the board of Corstorphine Public Hall, said during the last four years fundraising efforts had been combined with restructuring the ownership of the limited company to make it a charity.
He explained: “The big change here is that the hall is now a charity and the shareholders have donated the building to the charity.
“This building effectively belongs to the Corstorphine community for their benefit and it is now up to that community to decide how to make it the best we possibly can.”
And to meet the growing needs of an expanding community, instead of rebuilding the hall as it was, architects have designed a more flexible building over two storeys. Cllr Ross said: “The building will look quite similar on the outside but instead of one floor with a big empty ceiling space, there will be two separate floors. It will now meet the community-led demand for space.
“Before the fire took hold there was 30 different groups using the hall, as well as one-off events such as the Carrick Knowe school leavers dance.
“It has been a challenge to find a home for all these groups in the immediate aftermath of the fire, and for the school children – they have missed out on having an after party.”
The design of the hall was no longer fit for use, with inadequate toilet facilities, and a lack of accessibility. The rebuild committee wanted to provide a modern, flexible space that meets all current building standards.
“Unfortunately this does mean an increase in the cost of rebuilding,” Cllr Ross explained. “At the moment we’ve got enough to make it wind and watertight but if fundraising continues to come in, we would be looking at 18-24 months to build the hall, kit it out completely and be ready to open.”
The multi-purpose facility will include improved access, more rooms for a wide variety of clubs and organisations with access to modern technology and wifi, along with a coffee shop and meeting space.
For ways to support the hall rebuild, visit www.corstorphinepublichall.org.uk