Council rules out new community centre for growing Morningside

The Cluny Centre hosts a variety of groups. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor
The Cluny Centre hosts a variety of groups. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor
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COUNCIL chiefs have ruled out a new community centre in Morningside to replace a busy church-run centre which is closing.

The Church of Scotland put the Cluny Centre on Cluny Drive up for sale in September for offers over £750,000.

Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs wrote to the city council suggesting a feasibility study into a new facility in light of the move.

But now the council has replied saying it is seeking to reduce the number of buildings it has and citing a backlog of maintenance on other buildings.

The letter concludes: “Accordingly there is unlikely to be funding to support a new centre, nor would it accord with the council’s strategy of reducing its footprint.”

The Grade A-listed Cluny Centre, previously South Morningside Church, was built in 1890 and converted into community halls and meeting rooms in 1974 following the union of two neighbouring congregations.

The building was used as an overspill annex for South Morningside Primary School until recently and still hosts a variety of exercise, dance and play groups.

The Church of Scotland says the sale of the Cluny Centre will help fund the building of proposed new hall accommodation at the Morningside 
Parish Church site in Braid Road, which is already extensively used by church and community organisations and groups.

But Mr Briggs said the area’s growing population meant new facilities were needed.

He said: “The sale of the Cluny Centre has highlighted the fact that Morningside, unlike many other communities across the city, does not have its own community centre and therefore local people have to rely on school, charity and third sector buildings for meeting space.

“I think the council should investigate whether a new community centre in the area could be taken forward. Such a centre would be a real boost to local residents and groups across the south of the city.”

He said local residents would be “deeply disappointed” at the council’s refusal to look at a new community space in Morningside.

He continued: “The loss of the Cluny Centre which hosts so many local groups will be hard felt in the area.

“While local residents are looking forward to a new hall being built at Morningside Parish Church on Braid Road, there remain local concerns about a gap in available community space at a time when the area’s population is growing and so many local groups are looking for hall space.

“It seems that addressing the needs of local residents and community groups in Morningside and the Southside of the city is not a priority for this Labour/SNP council.”

And Councillor Nick Cook, who is Tory candidate for Morningside ward, said: “Edinburgh council’s disappointing response again demonstrates the knock-on effects of its failure to properly maintain its estate over a period of decades, which we know has impacted so significantly on the condition of community centres and schools across south Edinburgh.”

The Church of Scotland has insisted that all groups currently using the Cluny Centre will be able to move to Morningside Parish Church on Braid Road.

A council spokesman said: “We have an asset management strategy which aims to reduce the number of buildings the council occupies, which will generate financial savings and means we can invest more in our retained estate.”

He added that there was a maintenance backlog and a survey of buildings was under way to determine priorities.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com