Community bid for St Stephen’s

Jan 25 2014 | By More

The St Stephen’s Playfair Trust meeting for Feb 6

The For Sale sign at St Stephen's. Photo © Thom Dibdin

The For Sale sign at St Stephen’s. Photo © Thom Dibdin

By Thom Dibdin

The St Stephen’s Centre in Stockbridge could be purchased by a local trust as a bid is made to save the building for the community.

Proposals to set up The St Stephen’s Playfair Trust will be set out at a public meeting on February 6, as the streering committee set out to gauge support for the idea.

The one-time church is owned by the Church of Scotland. It has been run as a fringe venue for several years and year-round community space for local schools and organisations. It has been for sale for offers over £500,000 since early last year.

The centre remained open until Christmas – although use was much reduced because of uncertainty over its future. But the staff have now been made redundant and, following a failed purchase which dragged on for much of last year, Rettie Development is leading the sale.

A public meeting has now been called for Thursday 6 February at St Stephen’s, when proposals for forming the Trust will be set out followed by a discussion over the centre’s future.

A little injection of extra energy and lateral thinking

According to the flyer for the meeting: “A small group of interested persons has got together with a view to saving the church for the community’s use and it has been suggested that a trust be established for this purpose, the proposed name being The St Stephen’s Playfair Trust.”

The grade A listed building was designed by William Playfair and completed in 1828 as the St. Stephen’s Parish Church. The interior was reconfigured in 1956 and it became the St. Stephen’s Centre 1992.

The steering group point out that until it was closed by the church over Christmas the centre had 22 distinct users – including a fringe venue, rehearsal space for local theatre companies, two local schools, a playgroup, various keep fit classes and private functions.

They say: “The income from all these various constituencies has covered maintenance and staff costs for many years, and with a little injection of extra energy and lateral thinking, St Stephen’s cold grow to become a very significant New Town venue, both for the community and for users from further afield.

“Stockbridge Parish Church, which has responsibility for St Stephen’s, has decided they no longer want to invest in this very important Edinburgh landmark. The Kirk Session has recommended that it should be kept in community use. With very little notice all the organisations that use St Stephen’s have had to find somewhere else to meet and the staff have been made redundant.”

Æ’s original story when  St Stephens went on sale in May 2013 is here: Fringe venue St Stephen’s for sale.

The Broughton Spurtle broke the story yesterday: St STEPHEN’S CHURCH – COMMUNITY RALLIES TO DEFENCE

For further information on The St Stephen’s Playfair Trust, contact them at:

The St Stephen’s Playfair Trustt is on Twitter at: @StSPTrust

The flyer for the event. Click through for a larger version.


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