'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Proposed Re-Development of St John's Parish Church

Reverend Ian Goring outside St John's Church on Oxgangs Road North which is closing.
 Pic: Greg Macvean

A CHURCH described as the “heart of Oxgangs” is to be sold under plans to merge its congregation with a neighbouring parish.
Falling congregation numbers and rising costs mean St John’s Church will join with Colinton Mains Parish from January 1.
Members will move down the street when it becomes the new Colinton Mains St John’s on Oxgangs Road North.
The decision has been met with “sadness and understanding” from both congregations.
Linda Stewart, 66, who has been a member of St John’s since she was eight years old, said it was a big loss to the Oxgangs community.
“I think it is difficult when you have been a member of a church for 50 years but I suppose we have to walk in faith together,” she said.
“The church has always been the hub of the community because back then there was no community centre, library, swimming pool or anything like that.
“It has been the making of a lot of people over the years but it’s a sign of the times, that a lot of people consider it their church but don’t go. In modern times people work on a Sunday and children play football, it’s just a changing society.
“It will be sad to see a building sold that holds so many memories for the people of Oxgangs.”
The church opened in 1956 and has been a community hub – where the likes of Cubs, Brownies, Guides, old people’s groups as well as the church congregation have met for more than half a century.
Rev Ian Goring, the interim minister at both churches, said the merger was reflective of what was happening in churches across Scotland.
He said: “All over Scotland there are churches that are uniting, that is the way it is for the church these days.
“It was decided that the two churches should unite and that was put to the congregations earlier this year.
“The decision was made that the building that is currently Colinton Mains should be the place of worship and will become the new Colinton Mains St John’s.
“It might not be one of the oldest churches but it has had an important impact on the lives of local people.
“I think a lot of people will be sad to see it go and wish it wasn’t going but I think they understand the realities of the Church of Scotland.
“They become like a family where everyone knows each other; to have to change that and break it up is very difficult.
“I think the hope with this new congregation is that it will be able to do more together and build a new identity to make us stronger.”
A last service will be held on Hogmanay before both churches unite at the Colinton Mains venue.
councillor Jason Rust, who represents Oxgangs, said the move represented the passing of a part of Oxgangs history, but welcomed the merger.
He said: “I was delighted to attend the Thanksgiving Service which saw people connected with the church through the decades as well as other local congregations come together.
“There is a wonderful history to St John’s and it has been very much associated with the local community for the past half century.
“Hopefully, the union with Colinton Mains will flourish and see a strengthened 

Social housing land to be sold off to Aldi

Gordon Macdonald at the site. Picture: comp
Gordon Macdonald at the site. Picture: comp

LAND which had been earmarked for social housing or community use is instead set to be sold to a budget supermarket chain in a move branded “a monumental error of judgement”.
Aldi has been chosen as the preferred bidder to purchase the former Oxgangs Social Work Centre and St John’s Parish Church, which have been packaged together as part of a deal between the Church of Scotland and the city council.
When marketing the site, the city had said that “a mix of community uses and residential is likely to be preferred”.
But despite two of 11 bids being made by social housing providers, a larger offer from the wealthy German firm has been accepted.
The news has been met with outrage, with the site seen as ideal for desperately needed new housing in part of the city that already boasts extensive shopping facilities.
Gordon Macdonald, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, called on city leaders to “stop this folly” and reconsider before the deal with Aldi was signed.
He said: “This is very disappointing. While there is such great need for housing in Edinburgh, this is the wrong decision for Oxgangs.
“At least part of this land was earmarked for housing. When there is pressure on green belt land in other parts of Edinburgh and the council has already reported difficulty in identifying land to meet its own housing quotas, it defies belief that it thinks we need yet another supermarket here.”
Mr Macdonald said that there were two large supermarkets and a Scotmid outlet within a mile of the site and that an Aldi store could put the nearby Broadway shopping centre at risk of closure.
One outlet in the centre, Broadway Convenience Store, was recently named health promoting retailer of the year in the Scottish Grocer 
Mr Macdonald said: “A site of this size could provide over 70 much-needed affordable homes. ”
If the deal does go ahead, Aldi would have to win planning permission, meaning nearby residents and businesses would be entitled to object.
However, Green MSP Alison Johnstone said selling the site to the supermarket would represent a “monumental error of judgement by the council”.
She added: “Edinburgh desperately needs to build more affordable housing and the very last thing we need is another supermarket.
“Putting a superstore on that site would put unbearable pressure on the parade of shops right next to the site.
“We’re often told that brownfield sites like this are the first place where new housing should go, so I urge the council to look again at any bids from housing providers.”
A spokesman for Aldi confirmed that it had been chosen as the preferred bidder for the sought-after site, and said its plans would be brought forward in the coming 
A council spokeswoman said: “This property has been through an open market sale process and negotiations are being finalised in order to determine the preferred bidder.”