IT’S the historic community centre residents feared would be sold off and lost forever.
But now city chiefs have vowed they will not close Inch Community Centre – the local facility where Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, practised music as a youngster.
Community groups launched a vigorous campaign to keep the A-listed building open earlier this year after it emerged the council was considering selling it off to a private developer.
But a report set to go before councillors next week insists this option “is not considered appropriate” and recommends seeking out a third party to invest in the property for its own use instead.
Councillor Bill Cook, vice-convenor of the finance and resources committee, said: “There was never an intention to sell off the building and close the community facility. Part of the reason for the report is to reinforce that. The only caveat would be if there was a safety issue.”
Council surveys carried out last year found the centre, which dates back to at least the 17th century, had deteriorated to such an extent that £1 million would need to be spent on vital repairs.
In October 2015, the building was temporarily closed when a block of masonry fell from the roof and hit a parked car.
Cllr Cook admitted it was “arguably correct” the council had neglected its duty to look after the structure in previous decades.
But he said it was now trying to rectify the problem and was keeping an “open mind” about how to keep the community centre running. He said: “The report suggests one option is to look for a third party. At the moment, the community centre itself does not make full use of the old building.
“It’s a lovely building which is only being partly utilised. The intent would be to bring someone else into the building to more fully make use of it.
“The key thing is what we do now to take this forward. The fundamental commitment in the report is the council wants to maintain the community element in the building. The community facility had to remain.”
It is understood a charitable organisation has already shown an interest in taking on the site and helping to regenerate it. Officers are also looking to Historic Scotland to provide funding for repairs.
Sold to Edinburgh Corporation in 1946, Inch House was initially used as a primary school before being turned into a community centre in 1986.
The historic structure was home to Oliver Cromwell’s sword until the end of the 1800s, and, almost a century later, would provide a vital practice space for Edinburgh-born rocker Shirley Manson as she started out on her music career. Asked about the closure in April, the singer tweeted: “This saddens me deeply.”
Mark Mulgrew, chair of Inch Community Association, said local people had yet to hear anything concrete from the council.
He added: “It would be fair to say that not everything that has been said to us over the last few years has come to fruition.”