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Portobello residents receive £647k to pursue community ownership ambition

An Edinburgh community aiming to take ownership of the former Portobello Old Parish Church and halls in Bellfield Street is today celebrating a Scottish Land Fund grant of £647,500 that will take it one step closer to achieving its dream.

The award to Action Porty, set up to acquire and develop the property, will allow the group to pursue their ambitions of community ownership under the Community Empowerment Act which extends the right to buy land and buildings to urban communities.

Action Porty plan to turn the church and halls into a multi-purpose community hub, which will continue to provide an affordable meeting space for new and existing community groups to use for a range of activities.

Welcoming the news, Action Porty Chair, Justin Kenrick, said: "With the community fully behind this initiative to save Bellfield Old Parish Church and halls, Action Porty is now absolutely delighted to receive this crucial support from the Scottish Land Fund. As the population of Portobello grows while community resources vanish, this is a critical step in ensuring that we retain and develop fully accessible, affordable community spaces that can enable our community to flourish in these changing times. We hope that all other communities will do the same, and will also get the support they deserve.”

Action Porty is one of 11 groups today sharing in Scottish Land Fund awards totalling £2,128,943. Announcing the funding, John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: “Today’s award to Action Porty is a great example of what can be achieved now that the opportunity for community ownership has been extended to all parts of Scotland. This project has the potential to protect and enhance an important community facility, run for and by local people in Portobello. The funding marks a significant milestone for the group and I wish them every success as they go on to pursue their ambitions of purchasing and developing this local asset.”

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I am delighted to see that the Scottish Land Fund has awarded Action Porty over £600,000 towards their purchase of the church and halls.  
“This is the first group to go through the revised Community Right to Buy legislation, which now allows urban groups to apply.  I’m keen to see more urban groups take advantage of the opportunities that the extended legislation offers and I’m encouraged to see that the Land Fund is supporting the group to achieve their aims and ambitions.”

Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets at HIE, said: “This is a really important project for the local community of Portobello, who have worked incredibly hard to secure great support locally and raise awareness of what this building can do for their community. They responded quickly and positively to the potential loss of this local community building and the award today reflects their commitment and determination.’

The Scottish Land Fund is keen to support more applications from across Scotland and particularly within urban areas. Groups considering applying should contact the Big Lottery Fund to discuss their idea at or by phoning 0300 123 7110.

For more information on this release please contact

Big Lottery Fund Scotland press office
0141 242 1458

Highland and Islands Enterprise Press Office 
01463 244244

Notes to Editors

The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2016. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade. 

The SLF Committee was appointed following the normal procedures for public appointments. 

The BIG Lottery Fund distributes lottery funding to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. It also uses its expertise in grant-giving to distribute non-Lottery funding. Full details of the BIG Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: BIG Lottery Fund Public Enquiries Line call: 0300 123 7110

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) delivers the Scottish Government Economic Strategy across more than half of Scotland - from Shetland to Argyll and from the Hebrides to Moray. It aims to support businesses and social enterprises; strengthen communities and fragile areas; develop key sectors, and create the conditions for a competitive and low carbon region. HIE has an annual budget of more than £75m and employs around 250 people in locations around the Highlands and Islands. See more at to different website


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