EDINBURGH University has been attacked for ruling out the relocation of a long-running arts centre into a derelict church it owns - the same day the idea was made public.
The charity which runs the Bongo Club on Holyrood Road wants to take over the 19th century former Old Kirk, which has been lying empty for the last five years.
However a formal request to take on a long lease of the building has already been dismissed - despite it lying boarded up and the university’s pledges to help the Bongo Club find a new home.
The Out of the Blue trust has been ordered to leave its base on Holyrood Road, which it has occupied since 2003, in September to make way for new office accommodation.
The university, which has been urged to grant the Bongo Club a year-long stay of execution while the church is refurbished, insists it has its own plans for the building, which was first used for educational purposes in the 1940s.
But a university spokesman said: “We have looked at all of the available options within its properties across the city but has been unable to find a suitable new location for the Bongo Club.
“The Old Kirk was considered but cannot be used because it forms part of the University’s long-term development plans for its Holyrood estate, which includes providing new living accommodation for up to 1000 postgraduate students and a range of seminar spaces that will be used by students and the local community.
“In its efforts to assist the Bongo Club find a new home the University has put it in touch with a specialist commercial property agent, arranged an early viewing of a potential alternative venue prior to the property being put on the open market, and held several meetings with its representatives.”
Ally Hill, manager of the Bongo Club, said: “It would be an awful lot of easier for them to find alternative accommodation for their offices, than for us to find an alternative home for the Bongo Club.
“They did offer us help but to be honest it has not really amounted to much. We’ve really just been pointed in the direction of other people’s buildings.
“The big issue for us is that any new site will need a 3am licence to make it financially viable for us. The church next door to the existing site shouldn’t have had any real problems, in theory.”
Arts industry commentators have expressed dismay at the threatened demise of the Bongo Club after the closure of the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, The Forest Cafe and the Roxy Art House.
The city council, which leases out many of its properties on a temporary basis during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has also offered to help the Bongo Club find alternative sites.
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