A local group is stepping up its plans to take over a church earmarked for closure to benefit the community.
The Great Western Community Trust is appealing for support for its plans to purchase Holburn West Church.
The trust hopes to transform the church on Ashley Road into The Great Western Community Centre – a safe place for everyone, young and old, where people can still go to worship.
It comes after the Church of Scotland announced the kirk was one of nine in the city earmarked for closure in 2023.
There is no other community hub in the area, prompting concerns about the loss of local groups and services.
Determined to save the building, the trust has been working closely with Ashley and Broomhill Community Council and Queen’s Cross and Harlaw Community Council.
They have now applied to the Scottish Land Fund for support to have the building surveyed and evaluated.
Despite the “huge support” they have, the trust needs more local people to back the plans.
Trustee Leila Turner-Smith said: “We need community input, so we’re reaching out now because we need more support.
“We have huge support just now, but the Scottish Land Fund is asking for more. Everyone who does support us needs to fill out the questionnaire to prove to them it’s required.”
‘A safe space for people’
Currently, the building is used by local primary schools for breakfast and afterschool clubs and free chair-based Tai Chi lessons with Versus Arthritis Scotland.
Rainbows, Brownies, and Guides also use the space, as well as the Stagecoach drama school and other groups.
Tom Murray, chairman of Ashley and Broomhill Community Council, stressed the importance of keeping the church building in use for the community.
He has recently launched a JustGiving page to try to raise £10,000 to support the Holburn West project.
Mr Murray said: “Our idea is to transform it into a community centre as a space for the public, local residents and community to use it in a way they see fit, we don’t have a facility like that in this area.”
The community council hosted a Halloween event at the kirk to celebrate its first anniversary with live owls and reptiles. They believe they had over 1,000 people walk through the church doors that day.
Mr Murray added: “I would say that’s demonstrated the value of this building. It will get used for events, it’ll get used for Christmas, easter, summer holiday activities, it’ll be used by elderly people.”
Queen’s Cross and Harlaw Community Council supports the project unanimously.
Chairman Sandy Stephen said: “It’s terrific to put something into the community – and it’s required.”
Church space would be a ‘huge loss’
Martin Greig, local councillor, elder and session clerk of Holburn West Church, suggested there is a “strong and genuine” need for a place to gather.
He said: “More people from the community have contacted me about the future of the building. There is huge affection for the building and the congregation.
“Holburn West really is at the heart of the community and its closure will be a huge loss.”
“I’m very grateful for the work of the trust, and the community councils who are doing so much to stand up for the area and who are doing their best to make sure we have the long-term provision of a community centre.”
Submit your thoughts on Holburn West Community Group’s plans by completing their questionnaire online.