Fight to save church from wrecking ball

HERITAGE chiefs are battling to save a historic canalside church earmarked for demolition.

St Kentigern's Church on the banks of Edinburgh's Union Canal in St Peter's Place, has lain unused for several years.

Now developers want to tear down the church to create a modern building with a bar, restaurant and private flats.

But Edinburgh heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association has called for Historic Scotland and the council to step in to save the church.

It is demanding that a Building Preservation Notice be served by the council, as a first step to having Historic Scotland granting it listed status.

The association has written to local residents to drum up support to save the historic building.

Association director David McDonald said: "Apart from the building's appealing scale and aesthetics, it is also one of very few buildings of historic interest on this section of the Union Canal.

"Saving this building will help safeguard a diversity of building styles on the canal frontage. Potential uses we envisage could include a cafe, restaurant, nursery, office or even a residential unit."

The former Episcopalian church is surrounded by the on-going development of Fountainbridge and the Union Canal.

Built in 1897, it was designed by John More Dick Peddie, a prolific Scottish architect working at the end of the 19th century and the designer of the striking Caledonian Hilton building.

It ceased to be used as a church in 1941 and was subsequently used as a nursery and a garage.

Under plans submitted by Vincent Crolla of Edinburgh Letting Solutions on South Clerk Street, and architects James Clydesdale and Associates,

a three-storey building, featuring a bar and restaurant on the ground floor and 18 flats on the floors above, would be built where the church currently stands.

Developers claim that ongoing developments around the church give weight to the argument for a modern building on the site.

The church is adjacent to Leamington Wharf, where ten 500,000 luxury townhouses are being developed

Local resident Norman Watt, 73, said: "Quite a lot of people here are upset about this. We would be quite happy to see the church building used for something, but not to see it demolished, and especially not if they are going to replace it with a bar."

Mr Crolla was unavailable for comment.

THE FACTS

Plans were recently unveiled to create a new canal-basin on the Union Canal as part of a multi-million-pound development on the site of the former Scottish & Newcastle brewery.

Hundreds of new waterside homes and striking office blocks will be built around the landscaped "mini-marina" near the Viewforth bridge.

The 9 million plans would attract barge owners from all along the Millennium Link, joining the Capital with Glasgow and Falkirk.

The newly refurbished Union Canal towpath, a 250,000 revamp designed to provide cyclists and walkers with a safe route to and from work, and offer disabled users easy access to the waterways, was also recently opened.