The Church of Scientology is to explore plans to open a visitor centre in the West End of Edinburgh, according to reports.

The controversial ‘religious organisation’ want to create a hub boasting audio visual displays and information on the belief system in an effort to attract new members - three years after failing with a previous attempt.

The US-based church, which counts Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its most prominent followers, already operates the ‘Hubbard Academy of Personal Independence’ on the capital’s South Bridge.

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According to plans put forward by the church, the new facility would also include space for community programmes focussing on drug education and volunteer projects.

The organisation was started in the 1950s by American author L. Ron Hubbard, who derived it from his ‘Dianetics’ idea.

It suggests humans are immortal beings whose life extends well beyond their physical form and involves progressing up a series of ‘levels’ on the ‘bridge to total freedom’.

However, the church has previously been likened to a ‘cult’ and has been accused of ‘brainwashing practices’ by investigative reporters.

Members have also reportedly taken part in ‘hostile acts’ towards those who are declared ‘enemies of the church’.

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In 2017, church leaders attempted to acquire the lease of Lothian Chambers in Edinburgh’s parliament square, but were foiled in their efforts by the French consulate.

Edinburgh Live reported the new visitor centre is due to open in 2021 in either the West End or Murrayfield areas.

A spokesperson told the website no location had been confirmed, but the church was exploring the possibility.