Let me put my cards on the table. I’m an Inverleith fanatic and lucky enough to live on Inverleith Place. So when the opportunity arose in October 2001 to bid for St Colm’s Church on Inverleith Terrace I took no persuading – and once we had viewed the building nor did my partners. We saw immediately that the church had huge potential – but we also knew that buying the property and getting permission to convert it into a modern office was not going to be easy.
As an Inverleith resident, I was acutely aware of the terrible parking situation in the area. It instantly dawned on us that our bid for the property ought to bear the parking and traffic issues in mind. To this end, we duly had the church surveyed, decided what we could afford to pay (given that we intend to stay here forever!) and worked out how few cars we would need to visit the building on a daily basis. We realised, after a bit of head scratching, that we could implement a green policy within our business and dramatically cut down the number of parking spaces needed. By building ample bicycle storage and by subsidising bus passes we could reduce our parking requirements from eighteen down to just four cars.
When we analysed the layout of the church it became clear that we could turn it into a highly modern and efficient workspace without altering it significantly. ‘Less is more.’ More importantly, the fact that we would not corrupt the innate beauty of the building would strengthen our case with the City planning authorities and Historic Scotland. We knew early on in the bidding process that we faced stiff competition, so we felt our best chance was to offer a very competitive price together with sympathetic refurbishment plans and a detailed parking policy. The closing date for offers was 23 November 2001. We had done our homework. We consulted the immediate neighbours. We planned to alter the church as little as possible. In short, we had done everything we possibly could to further our cause. But would we succeed? We hoped. We prayed. We sweated.
When the phone call came, we learned that we had underbid by a substantial margin. Our hearts sank.
But fate is a funny thing. No sooner were our hopes dashed than we got another phone call to say that the top bidder planned to convert the church into flats and given that we did not intend really to alter the building, the Church of Scotland was prepared to accept our offer. Hallelujah!
We took possession of the building in mid May 2002 and by dint of hard work and some seriously good contractors (GHI of Bellshill) we moved into the building on 2 August.
It’s paradise. It really is. And if you don’t believe me, why not come and have a look? I have spoken to the Inverleith Society and suggested that we could organise tours for anyone who is interested.
Oh, and as we are in advertising (clients include The Scottish Executive, Intelligent Finance, Scotrail, The Daily Mail, Baxters of Speyside, Scottish Courage, SMG, Scottish Opera, The National Galleries, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Seacat, Kyndal, Miller Homes) if anyone has any advertising they need – we are just around the corner!
The Inverleith Society are deeply indebted to The Union for preparing this website for us, and for typesetting the Inverleith News each year.