Reclaiming our heritage: recreating and repurposing a community building

The two acres of land on which we established Leith Community Croft also features an old building. This was originally a tennis pavilion and was then used for changing room facilities by Leith Athletic Football Club. Unfortunately, it is very dilapidated. While we are currently using it for storage and a woodwork workshop, it is not suitable for much else, and without serious attention, we shall soon have to abandon and demolish it.

However, we were given a 25-year lease of this building by the City of Edinburgh Council which meant that we were able to apply to the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Assets strand to develop a funding application to refurbish or replace it.

Following extensive consultation with the local community (hundreds of local residents’ opinions were collected in various ways), lead architects Purcell have developed various options for the site and a strategic plan has been developed with Community Enterprise Scotland assistance. (Read an extract from the plan’s Executive Summary.

If this project were funded, the building and associated facilities would form a solid heart and nexus for all our work, and the local community too, and do much to ensure the long-term viability and independence of Leith Community Croft, the Croft Carbon College and Leith Community Crops in Pots as a whole.

Most importantly, it would make it possible for us to present our integrated work as a pioneering role model in the use of common good resources for social and environmental good, in particular with regard to the ‘urban croft’ concept. We want to improve physical and mental wellbeing, and combat environmental degradation, by building a community around renewed contact with the land and the growing and appreciation of sustainable, healthy food.

Our preferred design option for the building, to further these aims and informed by what local people have said, seeks to refurbish and extend the existing building.

A new entrance on John’s Place will welcome visitors and draw them into the site. The building and temporary outbuildings (modified shipping containers with living sedum roofs) will provide a range of flexible spaces, including:

  • central flexible multipurpose space/café with kitchen
  • farm shop/retail area
  • community space
  • training space
  • office space on first floor
  • workshop space

In this picture, the dilapidated pavilion building can be seen behind and to the left of our current pop-up café (‘The Hingabootery’). This current facility limited in what it can provide and there is no sheltered seating area.