Consent granted for church purchase

Rev Dr George Whyte
Rev Dr George Whyte and Land Reform Minister Roseanna Cunningham at Portobello Old Parish Church

The Church of Scotland has welcomed a decision to allow a community group to buy a redundant building in Edinburgh.

Rev Dr George Whyte, Clerk to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, said the proceeds of the sale of Portobello Old Parish Church and Halls would be used to help the denomination grow in new and exciting ways in the community.

He added that he hoped that the Action Porty community group would make good use of the space and maintain it.

Yesterday, Dr Whyte welcomed Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to the building and showed her around.

Representatives of Action Porty also attended and gave the two ministers a flavour of their plans to turn the building into a multi-use community hub.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives communities the right to buy land and assets under certain conditions.

The powers have been used widely across rural Scotland but this is the first time permission has been granted to a group within a city to proceed with a purchase.

Ms Cunningham said: “Congratulations to Action Porty on obtaining consent to proceed with the community right to buy of the former Portobello Old Parish Church and halls."

Own merits

David Robertson, Secretary to the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, said: "Agreeing a settlement for with Action Porty for its purchase of the former Portobello Old Parish Church and halls was a straightforward process under the legislation.

“The General Trustees are always willing to consider community purchase proposals for other redundant properties that are presented to them.

"Each case would be judged on its own merits bearing in mind the Trustees’ obligations as stewards of charity assets."

London Road Church in Edinburgh has just been put on the open market for offers around £590,000.