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£15 Million Contract for a New Community Hub in Edinburgh

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A £15 million contract for a new community hub at Macmillan Square, in partnership with North Edinburgh Arts, as part of the City of Edinburgh Council’s ongoing multi-million pound regeneration programme in North Edinburgh, was approved at Finance and Resources Committee (Thursday 3 March).

Councillors agreed the project will now enter the construction phase which will be carried out by Robertson Construction Group (Robertson), following its successful completion of the demolition of Muirhouse Library.

The first of its kind in the city, designed by Richard Murphy Architects, The Hub will be a place to learn, work, meet people, hone new skills and have fun. The state-of-the-art shared building will accommodate an early year’s centre for 185 children, a new library and will provide additional space for North Edinburgh Arts and will ensure that it continues to be at the centre of a creative, connected and inspired community.

The community hub is the focal point of one of the most significant urban regeneration projects in Scotland, tackling poverty and inequality in the area. It will be the flagship building at Macmillan Square which is currently being developed to provide a new square, 154 affordable homes and 13 retail units.

Over £200 million of public and private sector investment has been committed to revitalising the area for the wider community and this investment has already delivered Craigroyston High School, Pennywell All Care Centre and over half of the expected 1,000 new homes.

The North Edinburgh Regeneration project is recognised as a model of good practice in urban regeneration having won national awards for design, place making and community engagement. The new hub benefits from £2 million Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grants funding.

Complementing the Council’s new library, early years centre and affordable housing, the new hub will see arts and learning brought together under one roof in a striking new building offering the community in North Edinburgh an extensive range of services. This will include new enterprise, workshop, learning and creative studio space, alongside an expanded café, youth area and shared atrium.

Work to demolish the former Muirhouse Library started in October 2021 and following today’s decision construction on the new hub will start in April this year. The project will also include a comprehensive package of additional community benefits shaped by the local community and delivered by Robertson.

Whilst the hub is under construction the library will operate from nearby Edinburgh College in Granton. Certain events will continue to be provided in the Muirhouse area. For further details about opening hours and what’s on visit the City of Edinburgh Council’s Muirhouse Library page here.  

City of Edinburgh Council Leader, Adam McVey, said:

“The new building is an important part of the £200 million regeneration of Pennywell and Muirhouse that’s already seen significant investment by the Council and its partners, including Scottish Government, to build new Council houses and affordable homes and a community with strong local facilities in line with our aspirations for 20-minute neighbourhoods.

“Jointly led by the Council and North Edinburgh Arts, this is a good example of community empowerment showing how great value can be added to an area while supporting our landmark priorities as a Council to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030, as well as enhancing wellbeing and equality for our residents.

“Key aspects include the new local library which we hope will act as a community living room, open and accessible to everyone. The new building also creates the opportunity to work closely with the new nursery to have as much interaction with the children, parents and staff as possible – providing tailored events and sessions especially for those using and working in the nursery.”

Council Depute Leader, Cammy Day, said:

“The North Edinburgh Regeneration project is a major success story for the area, for the city and for Scotland and it’s so exciting to see this final element hitting a major milestone. This joint project with North Edinburgh Arts will create a unique facility at the heart of the community.  The new Early Learning and Childcare Centre will provide quality and accessible early years spaces for local children.  This will allow us to meet our commitments to making early years provision more flexible, to fit family needs, and deliver 1,140 hours a year of free early learning and childcare for all three- and four-year olds and eligible two-year olds.

“As part of the wider regeneration of this area we’re delivering 1,000 affordable homes as part of our pledge to deliver 20,000 affordable new homes in the city by 2027, which will make a substantial difference for people seeking a safe and permanent place to call home in Scotland’s Capital.”

Chair of NEA, Lesley Hinds, said:

“This new capital project will allow the organisation to flourish, alongside Council provision, and bring a first-class facility to Macmillan Square. NEA is a special place for the community of North Edinburgh and has been a trusted community anchor providing emergency food and support throughout the pandemic. Thanks also to the Councillors, MSPS and MP who have continued to support NEA both in the Council and in the community and it is this enthusiasm shown by our community which has kept us going through some difficult times. We’re looking forward to building on this support to bring a truly inspirational place to the heart of Muirhouse.”

Regional Managing Director, Robertson Construction – Central East, David Cairns, added:

“Having worked closely with City of Edinburgh Council over the last 24 months to assist bringing Macmillan Square forward, we are delighted to be to the contractor of choice to make this innovative vision by the Council a reality. The building will undoubtedly be a fantastic facility for the community when complete and our planned programme of community benefits during the construction phase will bring further benefits to the area socially, economically and environmentally long after the building is completed.”

The new library will give an opportunity to create joint activities with the other services – providing summer activities, expanding bookbug and storytime sessions, to creating more adult learning opportunities. In addition, the local library will be a trusted and welcoming community space, a place people feel comfortable using as individuals or as a connected group: a place of connection.

The community hub will offer young people a place to develop skills, confidence and self-esteem, a safe and inspiring place for local families and children, and a place where older people will feel part of a connected and supportive community. This accessible, welcoming and much needed community space uses environment-friendly build and innovative design techniques. The re-developed and extended venue reflects current community aspirations, whilst being flexible enough to respond to future changes in demand.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic NEA offered over 35 hours of creative workshops each week, most with a family focus, alongside a wide range of other events from singing groups to circus skills workshops, exhibitions, community theatre, film clubs, and festival events. The venue is also home to Muirhouse Link Up, the Pennywell Pantry, North Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Centre, and the Tinderbox Orchestra, all working to serve the most disadvantaged children, families and individuals in the North Edinburgh area. The extended NEA will also provide extra office space and facilities for community organisations.

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