Portobello church buyout wins 'crucial' funding

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A community bid to take over a former church in Edinburgh has been given a boost after winning "crucial" funding.

Action Porty has been awarded £647,500 from the Scottish Land Fund to buy the church and halls of Portobello Old Parish Church in Bellfield Street.

Locals want to turn the church into a multi-purpose community hub for clubs such as Scouts and Brownies.

It is set to become the first urban community buyout under new legislation.

Last year, the government agreed the project was of community benefit and gave it first option to buy the building.

One estimate for the value of the property has been put at £600,000; however, the community is hoping it will be lower than that.

'Critical step'

Justin Kenrick, Action Porty chairman, said "With the community fully behind this initiative to save Bellfield Old Parish Church and halls, Action Porty is now absolutely delighted to receive this crucial support from the Scottish Land Fund.

"As the population of Portobello grows while community resources vanish, this is a critical step in our efforts to ensure that we retain and develop fully accessible, affordable, community spaces that can enable our community to flourish in these changing times.

"We hope that all other communities will do the same, and will also get the support they deserve."

John Watt, chairman of the Scottish Land Fund Committee, said: "Today's award to Action Porty is a great example of what can be achieved now that the opportunity for community ownership has been extended to all parts of Scotland.

"This project has the potential to protect and enhance an important community facility, run for and by local people in Portobello.

"The funding marks a significant milestone for the group and I wish them every success as they go on to pursue their ambitions of purchasing and developing this local asset."

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