Members of Portobello Community Council met with officers from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Property and Facilities Management team, ward councillors, Action Porty, Portobello Amenity Society and Northfield Willowbrae Community Council last Thursday. Jointly, we have the following update on the conditional of the town hall and next steps:
Portobello Town Hall closed on 1 July 2019, principally due to the deteriorating condition of the ornate ceiling and the subsequent risk of plasterwork failure.
Existing condition survey reports indicate that the building requires significant investment in its current condition, estimated to be in excess of £1m.
Prior to closure, the building was used as a venue available to book via the Council’s library service but was being significantly subsidised due to the costs of running the property exceeding income. These financial factors, coupled with the fact that it was not used as an operational property required to deliver Council services, makes it extremely difficult for the Council to justify the capital investment required when compared to many other competing priorities across the city, like schools and community centres.
A community workshop was held that discussed a variety of options for the future of the Town Hall, and interest was expressed multiple future options, like a social enterprise or charity running it, or a community group, in a hybrid model, where the community had the opportunity to shape and work with a future tenant of the Town Hall.
It is proposed that the property is marketed for potential lease with a view to inviting ideas for its future sustainable use. This will commence in the new year with a ‘to let’ sign and particulars circulated inviting wider market interest. The initial process is to solicit interest, to inform the next phase of securing the buildings future with capital investment and, once complete, the Council, in consultation with the wider community, will assess all options.
In summary – the Town Hall needs serious investment, that the council can’t currently provide, and are looking to see if anyone (could be private business, social enterprise, charity or a community group) has a proposal for a sustainable use of the town hall. The community will then be involved in assessing the proposals and next steps.