Community centre plea for Edinburgh Sick Kids site

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children
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DEVELOPERS who bought the Sick Kids hospital are facing calls to sell part of the site to locals so they can build a community centre.

Most of the site, close to the Meadows, is set to become housing and student accommodation, but residents fear a ground-floor space in the student block which is earmarked for retail or commercial use will end up as a mini-supermarket.

Now a community group, whose right-to-buy bid for the whole site was thwarted, wants to buy the space for a cafe, a sports hall, after-school clubs or co-working office space.

The Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT), set up by residents, is expected to submit a formal bid to Liverpool-based developers Downing Group in the coming weeks. And if a deal can be reached, the trust would then own and run the space on behalf of local people.

A spokesman for MSDT said: “Our research shows there is a local need for a purpose-built community space that suits modern demands, such as co-working and childcare facilities.

“There will be around 800 new people moving in to our community as a result of this development and this facility would be a boom for them and everyone who lives here already in a way that another retail unit couldn’t be.”

He said there were already great shops in Marchmont and Sciennes, including lots of independent businesses.

“What we need more of is facilities that suit the needs of people who live here, such as more space for after school clubs.

“Our right-to-buy bid showed there is local demand for community ownership and we hope we can persuade Downing that this idea will benefit everyone.”

Katherine Dickie, who lives next to the Sick Kids hospital, said: “There are some local concerns about the height and density of this development so some sort of community space would at least be a positive step.

“There is a need for more community spaces in the area and with hundreds of new people moving here when the site is finished, this could be a great bridge between the new and established communities.

“There was huge support for the MSDT community right to buy bid so the demand for local people owning and running these places is definitely there.”

A Downing spokesperson said they had asked the trust for more specific proposals. “In the meantime, our consultation proposals do not rule out such a use. However, it is important to recognise that there is no planning policy requirement for such space to be made available and the NHS has not made this a condition of sale to the Downing Group.”

An exhibition and consultation session is being held by Downing tomorrow at St Cathernie’s Argyll Church in Marchmont, 2-8pm.