Green light given to community buy-out of Bellfield Street site

The community buy out has been given the go ahead. Picture; Jane Barlow
The community buy out has been given the go ahead. Picture; Jane Barlow
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RESIDENTS in Portobello are celebrating after the Scottish Government gave the final go-ahead for the community buy-out of the former Old Parish Church and Halls in Bellfield Street.

Action Porty plans to turn the redundant buildings into a multi-purpose community hub, including a base for groups like scouts and cubs, affordable meeting and activity space and offering the former church as a venue for performances and celebrations.

Bellfield campaigners outside Portobello Parish Church on Bellfield Street, Portobello

Bellfield campaigners outside Portobello Parish Church on Bellfield Street, Portobello

It will be the first urban community buy-out under Scottish Government legislation.

A purchase price of £600,000 has been agreed with the Church of Scotland’s General Trustees - and Action Porty has already been granted £570,000 towards that by the Scottish Land Fund.

The group is borrowing the balance and will launch a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of that and plans for future development of the premises.

Justin Kenrick, who helped launch the “Save Bellfield” campaign a year ago, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be in the situation where what was just a hope at this time last year is now about to become a reality.

“At the beginning, a lot of people were very doubtful it could actually happen.

“Now, in a sense, the work begins - the ongoing work of how to support a community, as opposed to desperately trying to save something.”