Local politician backs Buddhist temple scheme

The Scotsman, July 7, 2006

Edinburgh, Scotland -- LOCAL MSP Sarah Boyack today backed plans to transform a derelict Old Town church into a Buddhist spiritual centre.

Last year, Tibetan monks set their sights on converting Blackfriars Street United Presbyterian Church into a Buddhist temple and cultural centre. The building has been put on the market by the Italian Consulate after lying empty for more than a decade.

Ms Boyack, Labour MSP for Edinburgh Central, said: "I understand that when the council sold the property it was with the intention of enabling the establishment of an Italian cultural centre.

"However, the church has been put up for sale as a commercial development opportunity. I am aware that there is strong interest amongst the Buddhist community for the church to be redeveloped as a temple. I would support the retention of the church for religious and spiritual use and would ask that it be designated as such.

"I understand that the Buddhist community's intention would be to create a temple which would be likely to attract 60,000 visitors a year and believe that this would be an asset for the Capital.

"There are currently no dedicated places for Buddhists in Edinburgh and retention of this building for religious and spiritual use would meet that need."

Earlier this week, Scots singing star Annie Lennox gave her backing to the temple plans.

The singer, who was due to receive an honorary fellowship from Edinburgh College of Art today, wrote to a Buddhist friend to support the idea.