St Margaret’s House arts community vows to paint new future

Accommodation at Bannerman's was trashed, Picture: Christian Kimmett''from Facebook
Accommodation at Bannerman's was trashed, Picture: Christian Kimmett''from Facebook
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THE chief executive of a charity behind the Capital’s largest independent arts complex says it would be “a coup” for any building to become their new base.

The Edinburgh Palette are set to move out of their current home in St Margaret’s House next year after it emerged landlords had sold the former government building to new owners.

Couturier Lubi Lykan. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Couturier Lubi Lykan. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Developers Drum Property Group aim to transform the 1970s office block into “affordable housing, student flats and facilities for the benefit of the local community” as part of a £15 million deal.

As many as 200 workshops housing painters, craftsmen, a theatre and a disability charity are now thought to be at risk, but the group’s chief, Dale Gibson, hopes the collective will be an “attractive proposition” for potential landlords.

He said: “We are really good tenants and I think having us would be a coup for anyone who has a building to fill, simply because of the improvements we have made to our existing premises.

When we arrived at St Margaret’s House in 2008, the building had no heating, no hot water, no lifts, the stairs were crumbling and there was pigeon mess all over the floor – we could have made a fortune selling guano if we wanted to.

Artist Henry Fraser. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Artist Henry Fraser. Picture: Ian Rutherford

“But I think rather than sort of whine and complain and demand things, we just set about improving them. We installed a boiler, which didn’t come cheap, we bought new front and back doors to make sure the building was a safe space for our residents.

He added:“We will definitely be leaving this building in a much better condition than we found it.”

Planning permissions for the new development which have been agreed in principle include a new hotel, offices, student accommodation, apartments and a 225-space car park.

Aside from studios, print works a dance floor and gallery, Edinburgh Palette is home to a range of organisations – including Edinburgh Judo Club.

The charity is now inviting supporters to put forward their “ideas and visions” for its future.

A statement published on the Edinburgh Palette website read: “Due to the planning under way, we view the sale of St Margaret’s House as an opportunity and will focus on strengthening our community throughout the 18-month transition.”

“Our location will change, but our purpose will remain the same – to build vibrant communities of makers, artists, community groups and creative enterprises.”

It continued: “We are counting on your questions to aid us in finding the best solutions for our community. We are counting on your positivity as we embrace change and endeavour to move forward in a new direction.”