Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust and Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council have been working tirelessly to develop the old Sick Kids site using Community Right to Buy legislation.
Like many people I was shocked to hear that NHS Lothian have now sold the land to the developer Downing Group for £20m.
The initial Right to Buy application was 'sat on' for weeks by the Scottish Government before they eventually told the Development Trust they would have to resubmit their proposals as two separate applications because the site had separate ownerships. The double application was then submitted and again weeks passed before the Scottish Government declared that one Trust member, although a local resident, was not on the electoral roll. At this stage the Scottish Government also said the supporting signatures needed to be refreshed because 6 months had elapsed since they were signed. All of these bureaucratic hurdles were surmounted much to the frustration of the Trust.
On 14th September the Scottish Government responded saying that a ‘Stop Notice’ would be issued. However, it later transpired that the site had been sold on 5th September.
A cynic might think the Scottish Government used administrative obstacles to thwart a valid bid in order to flog the site to a private developer.
The Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council and Marchmont & Sciennes Development Trust deserve huge credit for trying to do the right thing and get this site into local ownership for the benefit of the wider community.
We now await a planning proposal which local people will probably have to fight long and hard to exert influence over. It is a great shame that this huge opportunity to create a lasting legacy for local people has been thwarted.
For more information please see the Marchmont and Sciennes Community Development website: https://marchmontsciennesdt.wordpress.com/