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June 3, 2015

New hope for engine shed

There was real sadness when a long standing social enterprise in Edinburgh – The Engine Shed – announced it was closing down. For many years it had offered great food, a great venue for events and most importantly a great training experience for young people with learning difficulties. Just one amongst many examples emerging from across the country of the human impact of austerity. However, all is not lost. A local rescue plan is being hatched.



Claire White, STV Edinburgh

A plan for a new community food business in the former Engine Shed building has been revealed.

Local residents have teamed up with social enterprises from across Edinburgh on a bid to transform the former charity base, which helped young people with learning disabilities find employment, into a food hub named St Leonard’s Yard.

The proposal includes a cafe, bakery, event space and offices with social enterprises, The Yard, Breadshare and The Food Social all proposing to lease space in the building.

The new bid for the building comes after the council cut funding for the Engine Shed, forcing it to close in February.

Development Manager at The Yard, Simon Turner, explained that the team want to ensure that the building remains in community use.

“We reopened the Crags sports centre after the council closed it down in 2010, we set up a charity to save the building so now we’re trying to do the same thing for the Engine Shed building,” Simon said.

“Our motivation is to make use of the old Engine Shed building and to ensure that the community continues to benefit from the use of the building after the closure of the Engine Shed enterprise.

“There’s a group of local people and local social enterprises that got together shortly after the closure was announced and started brainstorming ideas for how we could make best use of the building.

“There’s been an enormous amount of work led by one particular local resident Alison Neathey who’s done an absolute power of work in talking with all sorts of different people.

“The basic idea is to create a hub that the local community can feel a part of, including a big focus on local sustainable food and also providing access for local community groups with facilities including workshop space and meeting rooms.

“We want to hold events that the local community can get involved in based around a shared love for food.”

The three levels of the building would be split between the social enterprises, with plans to run events throughout the year from workshops to markets.

Breadshare would take up space on the ground floor with a bakery, expanding on itsPortobello branch.

The middle floor would host The Food Social, a new enterprise from the owner of theEdinburgh Larder, operating a cafe and cooking workshops.

Meanwhile, The Crags would manage the building, as well as hiring out the office and meeting spaces.

“We talked to a really wide range of people in the food industry in Edinburgh from micro producers that make sauce out of their home kitchen through to people that do yoghurt and various people have stepped forward and expressed interest in getting involved,” Simon said.

“The three active tenants would collaborate together to ensure the sustainability of the building and work with all sorts of micro producers and people around the various food events to create a real hive of activity for the building.”

Bids for the building closed on Friday, May 22 and a decision will be made by Edinburgh City Council in August.

In the meantime, the group is seeking support from members of the public.