Page updated 26 May 2016

Firrhill Partnership Centre

May 2016: At last there is visual evidence that this project has started.   The planning and funding issues resolved, the contractors are now on site.

Name this Facility : Allermuir Health Centre

NHS Lothian, keen to involve the community in the naming of this new £7,000,000 community health facility, invited proposals.  A shortlist of 3 names was selected and voted upon by staff, patients and the community.  The winning name approved by the Firrhill Project Board was due to be announced at the Oxgangs Gala in 2015 but due to the uncertainty surrounding the Bundle Programme, which included the Firrhill project, it was held back.  It has been announced that the new facility will be called The Allermuir Health Centre

Link to NHS website

Project History

In 2007 Scottish Government ministers promised £3.5 million for this Firrhill project, which was designed to bring together a range of health services and house local GP practices as part of a wider Hub initiative.

At a meeting of the Health, Social Care and Housing Committee held on 11 December 2007 it was reported that NHS Lothian had been invited by the Scottish Government to support proposals for capital projects for funding from the Primary Care and Community Premises Modernisation Fund and given a provisional allocation of £3.49m.  The Primary Care Premises Forum concluded that the priority project for submission to the Scottish Government would be the Firrhill Health and Social Care Centre.

The Director of Health and Social Care was heard in explanation of the plans for the Firrhill Centre and agreed to consider consultation on the relocation of GPs surgeries and to provide a list of future proposals for other local facilities.

The Health, Social Care and Housing Committee's decision was to:

  1. note the approved funding of £3.49m from the Scottish Government Primary and Community Care Premises Modernisation Fund towards the Firrhill Health and Social Care Centre.
  2. agree in principle to the location of the Health and Social Care staff from Oxgangs Social Work Centre and Victoria Street Social Work Centre.
  3. agree to receive a detailed business case in March 2008.

(Reference - report by the Director of Health and Social Care, 11 December 2007)

At a meeting of the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership that took place in the Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre on 15 April 2008, Robert Aitken, Assistant Manager at Edinburgh Community Health Partnership, gave a presentation on a proposed integrated health and social care facility to provide a range of NHS and Council services on one site in the Firrhill area.

The intention was to improve services to the public by encouraging better joint working between the Council and NHS Lothian. Details were provided of the background to the proposals together with examples of the range of services to be provided. The next steps in the process were outlined; beginning with community consultation. The facility was scheduled to open in 2011.

Following the presentation, the following issues were raised and discussed: 

  • inclusion of Community Councils in consultation
  • status of existing local medical practices
  • effect on local pharmacy services
  • parking provision
  • whether specialist services such as X-ray and mini treatment facilities would be provided comparison of the planned facility with the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre
  • the impact on existing services provided in the Pentlands area
  • road safety issues in light of the site’s proximity to Firrhill Community High School.

(Reference - presentation on proposed Firrhill Health and Social Care Centre.)

15 September 2009 : at a meeting of the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership Edinburgh that took place in Fairmilehead Parish Church, Robert Aitken (Edinburgh Community Health Partnership) gave an update on the development of plans to provide an integrated health and social care facility, combining Council and NHS services on a site adjacent to Firrhill Medical Centre.  He detailed the background to the proposal and outlined the range of services which the centre would provide, although certain NHS services were still under consideration.

Since the previous presentation to the Partnership there had been some delay with the project, however a number of matters had been progressed. These included consideration of the relocation of the South Central Community Health Team from the REH; an agreement, in principle, to extend the car park; discussions with a nearby major commercial retailer on additional parking space; and the addition of a third storey to the building.

The next steps involved further community consultation and approval of the business case by the Council and NHS Lothian in early 2010. The expected completion date was mid 2012.  The following issues on the presentation were raised and discussed: 

  • extent of consultation in the community
  • exclusion of proposal for minor injuries clinic from the centre
  • consultation with patients of the medical practices involved
  • public transport links to the proposed centre.

The decision was to:

  1. note the presentation.
  2. express concern regarding the delays in the project and the consultation process.
  3. request further information on consultation and better community dialogue.

(References - Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership 15 April 2008)

14 June 2010 - a meeting, organised by Cllr Barry, held in the Colinton Mains Community Education Centre to update community representatives of the development of the proposed centre to be built on the site of the old Oxgangs PS on Colinton Mains Drive. Two speakers attended – Steven Witton, CEC Social Work, to cover the social care part of the project and Robert Aitken, NHS, to cover the health part and gave a presentation of the proposal, which represented a joint project between these two functions and supportted the aim of achieving an improved spread of services throughout Edinburgh. In addition to the centralisation of the three medical practices in Colinton Road, Colinton Mains Drive and Oxgangs Path, the NHS services currently based at Springwell House and McLeod Street will be relocated either in their entirety or in part in the proposed new Health and Social Care Centre. Social Work services currently based in Oxgangs Path will also be relocated here.

Proposed services to include a physiotherapy suite and gym; podiatry and midwifery.

The project is reliant on £3.5 million funding from Scottish Government and it was hoped the business case would be approved before the end of the year and passed through the Scottish Procurement Information Hub by Aug 2011.

The proposed building will be no higher than 3 levels and will have an estimated occupancy of 168 staff. Car park spaces estimated at 60. The entrance will be off the driveway to Oxgangs Primary School car park, which has approximately 80 spaces. 

At the meeting people expressed support for the development, but remarked on the lack of parking facilities.

9 June 2011 : EN article reports that the proposed Firrhill Medical and Social Care centre is one of two health centres to be shelved amid fresh controversy over promised Government funding.  It has emerged that changes to Scottish Government funding procedures means NHS Lothian and the city council will have to wait until the autumn to find out if they will get the money.  Application for funding must be made through the controversial Scottish Futures Trust initiative.

10 June 2011 : a public meeting, organised by Councillor Rust and attended by Robert Aitken from NHS Lothian and Monica Boyle, Head of Social Care Perfomance, CEC, held in the Pentland Community Centre.  The project's delay is due to uncertainty re affordability, due to a reduction in Scottish Government allocations and also because of service configuration issues at Council. The £1million from the Scottish Futures Trust "enabling money" will only be released once expenditure has been incurred and that can only take place once a Business Plan is agreed.

While podiarty, paedeatrics, nursing and GP practice all appear to remain part of the plans for the new Centre, it would appear that the Community Mental Health Team from Royal Edinburgh and the physiotherapy section will not now be moving to the new Centre. It is also understood that the Oxgangs Social Work office has merged with Springwell and so will not be moving to the new Centre either and there are discussions regarding an Older Persons' Centre being established at Firrhill Neuk, rather than at the new Centre.

All in all a number of changes to the initial plans. This has advantages in terms of some of the intial concerns expressed at the earlier consultation such as parking and traffic congestion, but does start to take away from the joined up shared agency approach and importantly the economies of scale. 

(Minute of meeting 10 June 2011) 

30 June 2011: at a City of Edinburgh Council meeting and in response to a series of questions raised by Councillor Rust, the Convenor of Health, Social Care and Housing provided the following information: 

(1) The standard business case was completed last year. However due to the change in procurement in the NHS to hubco, progress has been delayed. A community meeting will take place in August with local representatives to review the services that will be provided in the centre.

(2) The Health and Social Care department has expressed interest in operating practice teams and day services for older people from the facility. However, the department is also exploring another opportunity for the delivery of day services within the Oxgangs area.

(3) The finalisation of the full business case will depend on the outcomes of the NHS Lothian Capital Investment Group and the City of Edinburgh Council Joint Asset Management Group in September

(4) The City of Edinburgh Council remains committed to this project. During the last year, I have raised the issue with the Director of Health and Social Care on a number of occasions at our regular meetings. I have raised the matter directly with both the former and current Community Health Partnership General Manager. I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil MSP.

29 September 2011:  report submitted to the NHS Lothian Capital Investment Group seeking approval of the Initial Agreement Report for the Firrhill Partnership Centre.  Approval of the initial agreement report allows the project to proceed to the next stage and makes funds available for producing the Outline Business Case.

5 October 2011: reports presented at a meeting of the Edinburgh Community Health Partnership.

24 November 2011: Gordon MacDonald MSP (Edinburgh Pentlands) covered the subject in a Parliamentary question.  A copy of the question and the response from Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Deputy First Minister) is attached here

19th June 2012: the CEC Health, Social Care and Housing Committee heard a deputation from Firrhill Community Council speak on the lack of information about the Firrhill Medical Centre project and ask their support for Cllr J Rust’s motion in regard to this matter. A copy of the motion is attached here.

23 August 2012: at the Oxgangs Neighbour Centre, the project architects gave a presentation on their design options for the Firrhill Partnership Centre as it was now being referred to. A summary of the presentation is attached here.

25 June 2013:  An open meeting on the project held in Oxgangs Library where the latest versions of the plans were available for viewing. Several members of the community attended and strongly expressed their concerns about the hazard to school children caused by situating the entrance to the medical centre car park on the access road to the school car park, which is also a pedestrian access.  They considered there was a risk to children from vehicles entering the Centre’s car park. This is an entrance point only as traffic from the Centre’s car park will exit directly on to Colinton Mains Drive, where the current car park for the medical centre is located. The issue of parking and vehicular access seems to dominate public meetings concerning this project.

Shortly after this meeting it was found that the entrance road to the car park at Oxgangs Primary School belonged to Amey and not the Authority.  This resulted in a revised plan being promoted.

30 November 2013: A Public Information event was held in the library on the design options for the proposed Firrhill Partnership Centre (formerly the proposed Firrhill Health and Social Work Centre) to enable local residents to see the NHS Lothian proposals on the project and discuss them with the Design Team.

Planning Application 14/00335/FUL

On the 30th January 2014, the Hub South East Scotland Ltd submitted a planning application for the erection of a new build 2.5 storey building which will house 2 GP practices, NHS day services and Edinburgh City Council office spaces at 167 Colinton Mains Drive. The attached documents are part of a number of documents submitted with the application.  

29 October 2014: Update information: The Firrhill project is currently on programme and within budget and expect to start on site in March 2015 with the building opening to the public in the summer of 2016.  There are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome before then.

  • The Health Board and the Scottish Government will have to approve the Full Business Case in November-December 2014
  • The purchase of the site from the Council has to be concluded - there is apparently an issue about Edinburgh Schools PPP's access to the site in order to maintain the boundary fence; the Council solicitor is looking into this at the moment.
  • Both GP Practices have to formally accept the terms of the occupancy agreement.

None of these matters are causing major concern.

Lastly it is intended to run a competition in the community to find a name for the new building. Apparently some names, suuch as Firrhill, are not acceptable.

Link to NHS website



Firrhill Health and Social Care Project Group:

2011: Notes of Meetings:  28 June;   4 August; 5 October; 8 November

2012: Notes of Meetings:  23 July10 September; 24 October; 12 December

2013: Notes of Meetings:  23 January; 20 February

2014: Notes of Meetings:  23 October

2015: Notes of Meetings:  5 February 201518 March 2015; 28 May;



Date of next meeting: 25 September 2017 at 6.00 pm
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