A 19th century church that was originally put up for sale on the open market has been set aside for a local community buyout.

The Church of Scotland building was listed for sale in July for around £590,000 after two congregations in the Scottish Capital merged together.

But now London Road Church in Edinburgh has been taken off the market so that a local community group have the chance to buy it.

Campaigners have formed a company, In:spire East End Ltd, to take their bid for the Gothic style church forward after the Scottish Government accepted their application.

The Church of Scotland is prevented from selling the building until Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham decides whether the proposed buy-out can proceed to the next stage.

The community bid wants to make the church a base for a wide range of activities including theatre, music and a community cinema.

The Save London Road Church campaign was required to show it had support of 15 per cent of the local population for its bid.

In the end, they managed to exceed that figure by collecting 1951 verified signatures - or 17.9 per cent of registered voters in the area.

Lawrence Marshall, former session clerk at the church and a leading figure in the buy-out bid, said they are hopeful of a decision in their favour.

He said: "Our first important goal has been achieved. We are delighted the immediate threat of a sale of the church on the open market has been averted and hope for a positive decision from the minister.

"We have already engaged a great deal with the local and wider community as to the aspirations and needs the former church might help meet - and are being contacted regularly by organisations looking for space."

If the London Road bid is allowed to proceed, In:spire will get eight months to secure funding to buy the building.

The sale price to the In:spire group has to be at market value.

The group has already contacted the Scottish Land Fund, which can give up to 95 per cent funding for community bodies to purchase properties under right to buy.

Even if it gains the maximum support, the community would still have to raise around £30,000 itself plus the cost of conversion work on the building.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland acknowledged In:spire had registered an interest in buying London Road Church.

He said: "The general sale process has been halted and the General Trustees have until September 21 to submit their views on the registration of the community buy-out to Scottish ministers, which is what they will do.

"In the meantime, other interested parties are aware of the situation."