A GRANT of more than £225,000 will see a church that is set to close later this year turned into a hub for the whole community.

Cockenzie House and Gardens has received £227,400 to buy Cockenzie & Port Seton Old Parish Church and Hall in order to use it as a community hub, offering space for groups to meet, social activities, pop-up hospitality and childcare provision.

The grant is among 11 totalling £1,833,622 that have been given to communities across the country in the latest round of awards by the Scottish Land Fund.

Last year, a public consultation took place to see what residents might like to happen to the Auld Kirk, as it is known locally, after the Church of Scotland deemed the building surplus to requirements after a review.

READ MORECockenzie and Port Seton church congregations to merge

The Auld Kirk is expected to close later in the year and its congregation is set to merge with that of nearby Chalmers Memorial Church, with services to take place in Chalmers Church on Gosford Road.

In February, a spokesperson said that "positive discussions about a union later in the year" were continuing between the two congregations and a vote by church members was expected to take place some time in the spring.

"A number of shared services in the coming months" were planned, they added.

READ MOREDiscussions continue over plans to merge two church congregations

Following the news that funding had been secured for the community hub plans, Marietta di Ciacca, from Cockenzie House and Gardens, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award from the Scottish Land Fund.

"This much-loved iconic building can now stay close to the heart of the community of Cockenzie and Port Seton, as it has for the last 170 years.”

The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2021. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Cara Gillespie, Scottish Land Fund committee chair said: “Like all the groups that have been successful in this round of funding, Cockenzie House and Gardens will use their awards to make purchases that will directly improve the lives of people in their community.

"Targeted funding such as this gets right to the heart of local issues.”

Communities to flourish

Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, said “Over one million people across Scotland now live in communities where assets have been acquired with funding from the Scottish Land Fund. This is a remarkable milestone and displays just how large an impact the fund has had on communities across Scotland.

“Community ownership is an effective way to revitalise local areas and improve the lives of residents. The latest recipients are no exception and I know that their projects will bring countless benefits to their communities.

“I’d like to congratulate the groups involved and I look forward to seeing their projects, and their communities, flourish as a result.”

And Sandra Holmes, head of community assets at HIE, said: “The successful projects announced today across Scotland are all great examples of people taking control of local resources for the long-term benefit of their communities.

"Through the purchase of land and properties, including a community hall and a former church, groups will be in a position to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits to the community.

"These latest awards will further strengthen the sense of community and empowerment.

“All these projects announced today will help retain the population, attract visitors and create jobs. Ownership will give the community groups greater control over important assets that will reap rewards for people now and for generations to come.

"We wish all the successful groups the very best in their new ventures.”