We are very pleased to announce that our application to register community interest in the Sick Kids site has now been submitted and that the owners of the site have been notified to pause their sale process whilst the Scottish Ministers make a decision on our application within 30 days. This press release was issued today (28.3.17):
ACID TEST FOR NEW URBAN ‘RIGHT TO BUY’ LAWS
SCOTTISH ministers are facing the first big test of new laws to extend the ‘right to buy’ to urban areas with a new community-led bid for one of the country’s most famous hospitals.
Residents living next to the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh have submitted an application to the Scottish Government to be given first refusal on the four-acre site being sold by NHS Lothian.
Affordable co-operative housing, healthcare and nursery facilities, space for social enterprises and a multi-purpose community hall are among the ideas suggested by local residents if the Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT) bid is successful.
The city centre hospital is due to close and move to a new facility on the outskirts of Edinburgh next year, and MSDT is facing competition for the 122-year-old facility from private developers keen to build luxury flats.
MSDT spokesman, Nathan Bower-Bir, said: “This is a significant test of the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to give the ‘right to buy’ enjoyed by rural communities to those living in towns and cities.
“The hospital is dearly held by people both locally and across Scotland. Whilst we’re sad to see it move, this is a dream opportunity to bring this historic site under community control and put it to the benefit of all of us – not just the well off.
“The people of this community are driving this idea and it is clear they want more than what we have seen at other city centre sites sold off, where developers cram in as many expensive flats as they can and fence off any green space from public access.
“This is a opportunity for ministers to show that these laws are not token gestures, but in fact are significant acts of reform that truly empower local communities.“People living here see the great potential of preserving the Sick Kids’ heritage as well as revitalising our local area.
“We hope the Scottish Government can match our ambition and the ambition shown by Holyrood in passing this legislation.”
Residents have already held three public meetings to discuss the future of the hospital and a petition has attracted significant community backing.
The site is part owned by NHS Lothian and its charitable trust, the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, which uses donations and legacies to improve the physical and mental health of the people of Scotland.
The first urban community buy-out under the Scottish Government is expected to take place in Portobello with a community takeover of a redundant church, but the Sick Kids plans are on a much larger and more complicated site.
When the community right to buy law was passed, the then local government minister Derek Mackay called it a “momentous step forward”. The Scottish Government currently has a target to double the amount of land under community ownership to a million acres by 2020.
The MSDT application has now been submitted to the Scottish Government’s community land team alongside letters of support from local businesses and politicians.
Under the terms of the legislation, the Sick Kids sale process has now been paused and ministers have 30 days to decide if the MSDT bid should get first refusal on the site.
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