Portobello Town Hall future under threat as Edinburgh City Council unable to afford £1m repair bill

The future of Portobello Town Hall is under threat after Edinburgh City Council admitted they could not afford the repair work to keep it open.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:38 am

Councillor Mary Campbell, who is part of the campaign group Save Porty Town Hall, said the property is likely to be put on the rental market in the hope it will find a sustainable tenant.

The town hall shut on 1 July this year due to the deteriorating condition of the ceiling and the risk of injury from falling masonry and plasterwork.

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Portobello Town Hall.

Expert surveys estimated the cost of repair to the venue would be in excess of £1m, an amount the council is unwilling to pay.

Edinburgh City Council finance and resources convener, Cllr Alasdair Rankin, stressed they want to work with the community to find a future use for the hall, which is being marketed in January to be leased, and that the community will be consulted on any proposals which come forward.

Prior to its closure the venue was rented out via the council’s library service but was being subsidised due to the costs of running the property exceeding income.

In a post on Facebook following a meeting between the council’s head of property and facilities management Peter Watton, community groups, and community and city councillors, Cllr Campbell wrote the council was now looking at putting the property on the market in an attempt to find a tenant which could run the venue sustainably.

Sharing a summary report from the meeting, the post said: “A community workshop was held that discussed a variety of options for the future of the Town Hall, and interest was expressed multiple future options, like a social enterprise or charity running it, or a community group, in a hybrid model, where the community had the opportunity to shape and work with a future tenant of the Town Hall.

“It is proposed that the property is marketed for potential lease with a view to inviting ideas for its future sustainable use. This will commence in the new year with a ‘to let’ sign and particulars circulated inviting wider market interest.

“The initial process is to solicit interest, to inform the next phase of securing the buildings future with capital investment and, once complete, the Council, in consultation with the wider community, will assess all options.”

Cllr Rankin said: “Portobello Town Hall closed on 1 July to allow for detailed essential maintenance and inspection work on the building to be carried out. At the time we worked with those who had future bookings to help them find an alternative venue nearby.

"The building is in poor repair and needs urgent investment. We know the Hall is valuable to the local community and want to work with them to help find a sustainable use for it going forward. That’s why we are marketing the Hall in January to be leased. We’ll look at all of the proposals that come in and then go back to the community to discuss any feasible ideas that come forward to make sure as many people as possible are involved in its future use."