New church also answers prayers for affordable housing

Judith Wallace, Ella Olsson, Bob Dalglish and Bob Cockburn in their new church building
Judith Wallace, Ella Olsson, Bob Dalglish and Bob Cockburn in their new church building
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A NEWLY-BUILT church has opened for worship – and some of the congregation may only have to nip downstairs.

Granton United Church’s new home is in the same block as more than a dozen affordable housing units.

Granton United Church's new building

Granton United Church's new building

The initiative, by the Port of Leith Housing Association, has benefited both parties, with the church able to enjoy new, up-to-date – albeit smaller –premises and the housing association adding 15 new properties to the city’s housing stock.

The joint Methodist-United Reformed Church congregation linked up with Port of Leith after deciding its 1920s building was no longer fit for purpose.

The church’s accommodation in the new complex in Boswall Parkway includes a multi-purpose hall with adjacent kitchen, meeting room, office and ancillary space.

The official opening took place on Saturday, and church secretary Bob Dalgleish said the arrangement was a welcome one.

“It made sense for us to split the costs this way with a smaller version of the church,” he said. “People worked hard to get it ready and it looks great. It’s on the same site as the old one, too, so not that much has changed.”

He added that measures will also be taken to ensure the sounds from the church’s lively services would not travel through the ceiling and into the flats above.

He added: “We had tests with drumming to make sure that wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t be fair on the people above if they were getting disturbed by noise.”

The flats are among 500 that were announced in August 2010, which would go some way to addressing Edinburgh’s affordable homes crisis.

It took around a year to complete the work, as part of an overall £23 million Port of Leith plan, and the homes will include one, two and three-bedroom apartments. The organisation won cross-party praise for its commitment to the work.

It is the latest in a series of churches over the years which have been changed from their original use, with many being converted into flats, bars, restaurants or clubs.

And the site-sharing solution is not unique in Edinburgh. In 2007, the housing association also helped the Duke Street United Reformed Church by assisting it with a new base.

The £2.7m development allowed for 24 cut-price flats to be made available for local people, while worshippers said they were stunned at the quality of the new building, which had been much needed.

amorris@edinburghnews.com