St Stephens Playfair Trust bid fails

Feb 26 2014 | By More

Church of Scotland sells landmark church to “individual”

St Stephens

The St Stephen’s Centre has been sold. Photo: property particulars.

By Thom Dibdin

The St Stephens  Centre, the one-time church in Edinburgh’s New Town which has been used as a fringe venue since 1966 and a community resource since 1992 has been sold to an individual purchaser.

A community organisation, the St Stephens Playfair Trust, had hoped to purchase the building and keep it in its current use.

However the trust released a statement tonight, Wednesday 26 February, that their bid of £505,000 had not been accepted by the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland and Stockbridge Parish Church.

According to the statement: “We understand that a higher offer has been accepted from an ‘individual’ who apparently has a charitable trust and intends the present usage to continue.  On face value this could be fine, but we remain concerned for the long term future of the church, and the possibility that its unique potential as a cultural and community venue is not fully realised.”

The Trust say that they intend to contact the prospective purchaser with a view to exploring a form of partnership.

However, they add that: “this of course would be dependent on their vision for the building, and will be a conversation that cannot take place until missives are exchanged.”

The one-time church is a grade A listed building. It 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. It is owned by the Church of Scotland.

Although the offer has been accepted by the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh Council has a right of pre-emption on the building as it is a former Burgh Church.

According to the conditions of sale for the building: “Once offers have been received, the Council will have the opportunity to purchase the Church at the price and on the same terms and conditions as the Sellers indicate they are willing to accept. The Council will have to accept or decline the offer within one month of being notified of its terms.”



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