Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, today (21 Sep) used First Minister’s Questions to highlight the “gazumping” of one of Scotland’s first major urban community buy-outs, the Sick Kids Hospital site in Edinburgh.
Alison asked the First Minister what more her government would do to support community bids in light of NHS Lothian selling the site to a student-accommodation developer.
A community trust had notified Scottish Ministers of their interest back in April.
The First Minister responded to Alison saying that she understood the strength of feeling but that the NHS would use the proceeds of the sell-off to invest in services.
“It’s simply unacceptable that after many years of struggle, the community has been gazumped. NHS Lothian should not have been allowed to sell off the site when Ministers knew of the community interest.
“A huge opportunity for the communities of Marchmont and Sciennes, and indeed the whole city of Edinburgh, has been missed. If we are serious about urban community empowerment we cannot allow this situation to happen elsewhere.”
Green councillor Claire Miller raised the issue at today’s meeting of the city council. She added:
“The community trust notified Scottish Government ministers several times of their interest in purchasing the site, and had fantastic plans including truly affordable housing for a range of different occupiers.
“But they were met with repeated knock-backs due to technical issues with their application. Not because their plans were wrong. Not because the vision was wrong. Not because the funding was absent. But because the process was wrong.”