Edinburgh’s Sick Kids community buy-out on cards

There could be a potential buy out of the site. Picture; Jon Savage
There could be a potential buy out of the site. Picture; Jon Savage
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RESIDENTS living near Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital are planning to launch a potential community buy-out of the site.

They say they want to ensure that when the hospital moves out next year, the use of the land includes healthcare provision, quality affordable housing and infrastructure for community enterprise.

They are forming a new community body, the Marchmont & Sciennes Development Trust, to register an interest in the site under the Scottish Government’s community right-to-buy legislation.

And they plan to gather signatures on a petition to show the level of support for going forward with the right-to-buy process.

Tom Bristow, one of the directors of the new trust, said conversations had been going on between the community and NHS Lothian about the future of the site for some time.

“You can sit and wait for them to make their decisions or you can work on it yourself.”

He said people in Marchmont/Sciennes had been inspired by the Action Porty group in Portobello whose plans to take over former Portobello Old Parish Church are set to become the first urban community buy-out under the latest legislation. “People were saying we should think about that as well.”

The hospital was put on the market at the end of last year and experts predicted there would be developers “queuing up” to buy it for a prime-site housing development. It is expected to sell for tens of millions of pounds.

Staff at the Sick Kids are preparing to move to a new purpose-built, £150 million building next door to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France in spring next year.

Mr Bristow said a meeting in November had drawn up ideas the community wanted to see included in redevelopment of the Sciennes site, including housing, community enterprise and healthcare. “People were not 100 per cent sure their feelings would be represented on that. The community right-to-buy is one process that might address that.

“We’re petitioning the community over the next ten days to see what interest there is.”

A meeting to outline the opportunity is to be held at the German church, Chalmers Crescent, next Tuesday at 7pm.