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Leith Tram Depot to become Community Hub

Posted: 9th March 2017

Part of the old tram depot on Leith Walk is to be brought back to life as a community and business hub, thanks to a £1.3m funding injection from the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council.

The regeneration project will breathe new life into the site, last used for trams 60 years ago, creating new jobs and training places. Capital grant funding of £750,000 for the project was announced by the Scottish Government today and a further £530,000 is being provided by the Council, which will enable work to start on-site this year.

The project will bring an ‘at risk’ listed building at the front of the site in Leith Walk back into long-term productive use. It will deliver vitally-needed flexible, affordable workspaces for early-stage businesses as well as providing space to create a temporary community services hub for the voluntary and public sectors.

The Out of the Blue (OOTB) community and arts development organisation will partner with the Council to manage the business units to provide usable community space for artists and entrepreneurs. The aim is to bring back the site into meaningful use by recycling and upgrading sea containers and providing them for creative space until long term plans for the site are secured.The units could include studios for artists and other creative entrepreneurs, a social enterprise café providing employment and training opportunities and a community arts education/ retail facility.

A street market using reconditioned wooden huts from the former German Christmas market will also animate Leith Walk creating a draw for residents and visitors alike.

Cllr Gavin Barrie, Economy Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This is welcome funding from the Scottish Government and I am delighted that this project can now go ahead providing new jobs and training places for local people. The community hub will deliver vital services to people in Leith Walk and the wider Leith area, which is one of the most densely populated and fastest growing places in Scotland.

“The business units and street market will create a real buzz on Leith Walk and will address the critical shortage of space for artists and other creative entrepreneurs in Edinburgh.”

Kevin Stewart, Local Government Minister, said: “I am delighted that the Leith Walk area will benefit from this injection of funding and the exciting plans look certain to support the regeneration of the area.

“The 29 projects across the country, worth £25 million, will focus on a range of issues – from tackling social isolation to services to addressing health inequalities, educational attainment, supporting ex-offenders and boosting tourism. They are an excellent example of how national and local government are working together on shared priorities that benefit local communities.

“I’m also pleased to announce that Regeneration Capital Grant Funding funding has been confirmed until 2021 – and that a call for applications to the fund for 2018/19 will be made shortly.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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