Ruined farmhouse gets new lease of life as community buys shares

Bridgend Farmhouse is now being run as a 'community hub' with activities including a cafe, bike repair and arts and crafts workshops. Picture: contributed
Bridgend Farmhouse is now being run as a 'community hub' with activities including a cafe, bike repair and arts and crafts workshops. Picture: contributed
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Scotland’s first urban asset transfer has seen a community raise more than £70,000 through a share-sale campaign to restore a derelict farmhouse on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Bridgend Farmhouse, near Old Dalkeith Road to the south of the city, is now being renovated and run with shares bought by approximately 400 people in nearby Craigmillar, Moredun and the Inch.

Will Golding: BIG charity's founding chairman. Picture: contributed

Will Golding: BIG charity's founding chairman. Picture: contributed

The minimum share was £25, with all shareholders having equal voting rights.

Edinburgh City Council, which owned the building, put it up for sale in 2014.

But after campaigners objected the council agreed to give local charity BIG (Bridgend Inspiring Growth) a year’s licence to raise funds to renovate it.

A year later councillors transferred ownership of the building and the land around it to the charity for £1.

The farmhouse, next to allotments, is now being run as a “community hub”, with activities including a Come Dine With Me-style cafe, bike repair and arts and crafts workshops.

Community Shares Scotland, (CSS) funded by the Scottish Government and the Big Lottery, which helps communities through the share offer process, offered guidance to local charity BIG. The idea was spearheaded by Will Golding, 33, the charity’s founding chairman and a regular attender of the allotments’ health inclusion projects, who recognised the potential of the building.

“Through our community shares issue this has been a chance to be a shared owner of this amazing site and resource, and to be involved in bringing it back to life as a place where people can meet, eat, learn, get experience, be inspired and act for positive change together,” said Mr Golding.

Recalling the project’s early fund-raising days, Mr Golding said: “When we got our very first grant for £500 to develop the first board and committee, I realised I didn’t need to spend my benefits money on printing any more but could use it to buy food.”

Mr Golding added that an added positive factor was being located “on the edge of the communities served” rather than in the middle.

“It’s quite unique and it’s not territorial.”

James Proctor, CSS programme manager, said the shares’ target was achieved in under three months.

“Two weeks after it was launched at the beginning of September the share offer had attracted its £30,000 minimum target. They were hoping for £50,000, but when the offer closed on Tuesday this week, it had reached £70,750.”