'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.”


Unknown said...

not good news housing would have been the best option,the shopkeepers at the broadway, must be very concerned as to there futures. will also change a very well thought of area in oxgangs,the thoughts of everbody who new st johns including myself will be fondly remembered. Iain Hoffmann.

Anonymous said...

Hello again Peter

Unfortunately I didnt make it down to the last service in St Johns, broke down in Perth on the Sunday not the best time to need a tow but nevertheless I am still following the saga of my old church and by all accounts the service was excellent I was glad to read.

Selling the land to the highest bidder is the way you would expect Edinburgh Council to behave no consideration for the needs or the wants off the local people,when it comes to making stupid decisions Edinburgh seems to lead the way eg the trams,closing Hunters Tryst, amalgamating schools regretfully the same situation is happening all over even up here.

It seems that nothing is sacred anymore I was surprised to note how many of the houses in the street are actually up for sale or allready private, buying your council house has been a boon for a lot of people and I tend to think that once you move from council to self own you lose the sense off community spirit that "we are all in this to-gether" and tend to go for the to hell with the neighbours lets look after No1 eg me! modern society just does not seem to have the same attitudes that we had when you and I were little.

My mum would often have a chin wag with the family up stairs who were not just neighbours but very good friends (who I still keep in contact with) we would help each other out whenever possible, coffee mornings were a regular occurance in our stair I vividly remember the smog of fags being chain smoked by mums even in the home passing on news of the latest gossip and to talk about the bairns or anything interesting happening in the stair or scheme if you misbehaved it wasnt long before your parents found out one way or another through the grapevine if one of the neighbours fell ill someone in the stair would pop round and ask if she needed any shopping done or any other help at least that is what it was like in my stair I assume yours was the same hence you are writing all these articles full of happy memories and some not so pleasant, I also would like to turn back time and re-live the good and the bad times, memories never die just fade away.

Getting back on track can you remember the rivalry between the Street and the other side of the road eg the Row and the Park and across the main road the Farm Gardens etc when we used to try and pick a football team made up of locals from the areas mentioned I seem to remember the Farm Gardens had a good team because they had one Eric Carruthers who eventually played for Hearts the heads went down when we heard he was playing a good player but he knew it unfortunately.

Also the children from that area tended to be older than us more physical and stronger but you yourself were quite fast and nippy, had a habit of avoiding confrontation because they could not catch you, I still say the reason why I have got one leg longer than the other is playing so often on that slope over the years.

Another area of exploration was to venture across to the army houses around the NAAFI area where there was a huge expanse of unexplored land at the back of the army houses or so it seemed back in the 60s and we had to try and keep away from the locals (the soldiers kids) or they would give you a doing for tresspassing on their turf I spent many a day creeping about like Commandos in the undergrowth, brilliant days especially in the scorching summer sun during the school holidays, our gang versus theirs and also there was the covenanters tower we used to believe that long dead bodies were buried under the slabbed floor and they would return to haunt you if you were there after dark the imagination of a ten year old knows no bounds does it?.

I think I have went on long enough Peter looking forward to your illustrated version of the street, any more memories you can remember?.