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13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
WW1 ‘living memorial’ woodland to be planted

The Scotsman - 3rd June, 2014

Scotland’s First World War heroes are to be commemorated with a “living memorial” of new native woodland on an area used by the military.

Over the next four years more than 50,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan will be planted on land that has been used by army personnel for training for more than a century on the MOD training estate at Dreghorn.

Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood is being created by the Woodland Trust Scotland working in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

It is one of four being planted by the charity across the UK.

The new woodland in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh will include features such as a memorial avenue of 50 wild service trees that will break into vivid reds in autumn.

Wildflowers including poppies will be sown to provide colour while the new trees grow and mature. A formal commemoration area will also be created to provide a focal point for remembrance.

The charity is appealing to the public to raise £500,000 towards the cost of the project in Scotland.

Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood will be a beautiful place for people to come and remember the heroes of the conflict.

“The area has been used by the military for more than 100 years but it is also freely open to the public to explore and enjoy. That makes it a perfect place to create this special living tribute.

“Wild service trees have been chosen for the memorial avenue specifically for their bright red autumn colours. The woodland will be a really special place to visit at any time of year but especially in autumn when people’s thoughts are turning to remembrance.”

“We urgently need help from the public to create this living memorial, and to give thousands of people including schoolchildren the chance to plant a tree.”

Forty hectares of native woodland will be created to extend and buffer existing woods on the site.

The majority of the trees will be planted this autumn and next spring. Local schoolchildren will be given the chance to be involved in tree planting events over the next four years.

DIO SD Training Commander Scotland Lt Col Peter Hollins said: “We’re proud to be hosting Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood on our estate. It provides a fitting memorial to the sacrifices of the past, whilst creating new woodland to help soldiers train more effectively in the future.

“Our Armed Forces continue to develop and evolve through experience gained in combat; with many innovations stemming from the First World War’s enduring impact on operations, equipment and welfare.”

Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said: “Scotland’s Centenary Wood is a fitting living memorial that will provide a lasting reminder of World War One. I am particularly delighted that young people are to be given the opportunity to be involved in creating this living memorial by planting a tree within the woodland.

“One of the key objectives of the Scottish Commemorations Panel is to raise awareness amongst this and future generations of the impact of World War One on Scotland in asking the question: ‘What do we learn from all this?’

“Creating a woodland that will have a positive effect on Scotland’s environment is a unique and lasting way to do this.”

The Woodland Trust’s Centenary Woods project will see well over three million native trees planted across the UK, representing the millions who fought in the First World War. Sainsbury’s will be partnering the Woodland Trust to deliver the project.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Allotment plan to help residents grow vegetables

Edinburgh Evening News - 18th June, 2014

Community allotment plans taking root in council estates across Wester Hailes could sow the seeds of a healthy eating revolution.

A “food-growing hub” is set be established on a triangular stretch of land for around 40 residents in the heart of the district before it is rolled out across the whole of Wester Hailes.

It comes months after work began on an early phase of the project, at a site close to Sighthill Primary School, which saw land converted into a community garden and now permission is being sought to create a second plot close to Clovenstone Gardens.

Run by Wester Hailes Edible Estates, organisers aim to help scores of households grow their own vegetables and cook healthy, affordable meals.

The latest proposals will see 40 raised beds, a community tool shed and other areas for cultivation incorporated in the design.

Greig Robertson, project coordinator, said around 50 volunteers have been attracted to the allotment concept.

He said: “This provides a fresh approach to how people can get involved in the management of local green space in Edinburgh’s council estates at a time when the council has less and less resources to manage its local green spaces.

“We also want to encourage people to work with their neighbours to improve the quality of their local green space and the facilities and amenities on their estate.

“And it’s important to encourage people to have a greater involvement in their council estate.”

The community growing concept was “perfect” for green-fingered amateurs who might have a long wait to near the top of the allotment waiting list, said Mr Roberston.

It is hoped the Wester Hailes project will flourish like its predecessor, the Calders Edible Estate Project, which is now planning to add a community orchard.

“Built in the 1970s, the Calders has approximately 1200 householders, with folk mostly living in flatted accommodation,” said Mr Robertson.

“But also like a lot of estates build at that time, there is a lot of green spaces between the houses and projects like this hope to convert some of that into food-growing areas, wild flower meadows and play features for the local children.”

Nutritional consultant Chris Fenn welcomed the project which she said could help improve the diet of the community.

She said: “Cheap food is processed food.

“It is very easy to live off processed food but this reconnects people with where their food comes from.”

She added that locally grown food tended to contain more nutrients, have a higher mineral content and to be of better quality than mass-produced fruit and vegetables from supermarkets.

It is hoped the project can be extended to Dumbryden, Murrayburn and Hailesland.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Groundbreaking Edinburgh Living Landscape launched

Scottish Wildlife Trust - 4th November, 2014

An initiative that aims to make Edinburgh the best city in Europe to live in by 2050 has launched today with an event attended by Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP.

The Edinburgh Living Landscape is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, GREENSURGE and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to bring a transformational change to the city’s urban environment.

It becomes the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s third Living Landscape, joining the urban Cumbernauld Living Landscape and the rural Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape in north west Scotland.

It hopes to create a city fit for the future with healthy and beautiful areas that are resilient to climate change as well as being highly valued and accessible to Edinburgh’s citizens.

Edinburgh is known for its fantastic parks, gardens and active travel networks but the Edinburgh Living Landscape wants to take this a step further. Partners in the initiative want to ensure high-quality, nature-rich and connected places exist across the city. Simple measures will be promoted - such as the use of window boxes, increasing the number of wildflower meadows and planting more street trees - but more innovative urban design such as green roofs and walls will also be considered.

This will mean more biodiversity and better ‘natural services’ - including cleaner water, increased pollination, improved footpaths and cycle paths - to benefit the city’s residents. Children will also be beneficiaries of the initiative, with areas to play, explore and learn increasing around Edinburgh.

One of the exciting initiatives already being undertaken for the Edinburgh Living Landscape is the Urban Pollinator Project - a collaboration between Edinburgh Council and the University of Edinburgh. By converting patches of grassland to wildflower meadows, the project aims to boost numbers of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects within the city. This will benefit local beekeepers, food growers and gardeners while increasing the beauty of Edinburgh’s many parks.

Future projects also include: the creation of a bespoke Edinburgh wildflower meadow seed mix, improvements in access to high-quality green space for residents, and also working with developers to transform derelict land around the city for the benefit of local communities.

Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP, said: “I am delighted to launch the Edinburgh Living Landscape, which is a prime example of a partnership project that aims to enhance the local environment and create high quality spaces for the benefit of city residents.

“Creating great places for people is of course a key aim of the new National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy – indeed, the SPP states that planning should protect, enhance and promote green infrastructure, including open space and green networks, as an integral component of successful placemaking.

“Green networks can help create attractive, sustainable cities, towns and neighbourhoods where people want to live and bring up their children, and it is for this reason that I commend the vision that has been put forward by Edinburgh Living Landscape.

“Their ambition to make Edinburgh the best city to live by 2050 is testament to the determination of all involved to enhance the capital’s urban environment for the benefit of future generations.”

Programme Director for the Edinburgh Living Landscape and Head of Policy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Dr Maggie Keegan, said: “The Edinburgh Living Landscape is a new way of thinking about how we manage land in a multifunctional way to do more for wildlife and habitats, people and the economy.

“The Edinburgh Living Landscape’s portfolio of projects will create, restore and connect green areas of the city and influence the design of green buildings and infrastructure.

“The Scottish Wildlife Trust hopes this project will demonstrate how cities of the future can be planned and managed with wildlife in mind for the benefit of the people who live in them.”

Click here to read more about the Edinburgh Living Landscape’s portfolio of projects, or click here for an executive summary.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Designers reveal vision for Edinburgh’s new-look Saughton Park

Scottish Construction Now! - 15th December, 2014

Initial designs for the major redevelopment of one of Edinburgh’s premier parks will be unveiled this week.

The first impressions of a new-look Saughton Park and Gardens will go on display to the public at a special event tomorrow.

Visitors to the drop-in exhibition will be able to discuss provisional plans with designers Ironside Farrar Ltd.

The consultants, who were involved in the design of The Helix in Falkirk, have been appointed to develop a design plan for the proposed £5.3 million renovation of the historic park.

Environment convener, councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “This is a very important stage in the project to revive Saughton Park and its wonderful gardens, as we get a first glimpse of designers’ vision for restoring it to its former glory.

“We have been eager to involve local people throughout this process, and now the community can come along and tell us what they think of these exciting new ideas.”

The design team, which also includes Sutherland Hussey Architects, Peter McGowan Associates, Richard Shorter Architect and David Narro Associates, has drawn on a visitor satisfaction survey and interactive events with the public to ensure designs cater to park users.

The project aims to renovate Saughton garden’s historic elements and secured almost £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year to develop a design and prepare a bid for funding to implement this.

Originally established as part of Saughton Hall in the 17th century before being purchased by the council and opened to the public in 1905, Saughton Park is considered one of Edinburgh’s six ‘premier parks’.

In 1908 it was redesigned for the Scottish National Exhibition, resulting in a range of new features, including sporting facilities, a bandstand and winter and botanical gardens.

The event, which will involve tea, coffee and mince pies along with festive music, will take place at the Saughton Park Winter Garden on Tuesday 16th December between 4pm and 8pm.

47 Posts

A new report has put a £4.8m price tag on a proposal for a new ‘raised park’ that could be built on around 250m of disused railway line that runs between Pilrig Park and Halmyre Street.

Drawing inspiration from similar projects in New York and Paris, the project would create a new landmark bridge, and a public path with dramatic views over Leith by landscaping the area on top of two former railway viaducts.

The most high profile aspect of the project would be the construction of a new bridge over Leith Walk that would link up two railway viaducts.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Apple orchards plan for Capital plots

Edinburgh Evening News - 3rd December, 2014

Urban orchards are set to spring up across the Capital as part of a national scheme to grow apples in unused inner-city plots.

Organisers hope to plant up to ten apple orchards on dilapidated lots in Edinburgh beginning next year – and that the project will help to unite communities and “instil a sense of responsibility” in the city’s young people.

Community leaders in Wester Hailes said they planned to jump at the opportunity to join the Helping *Britain Blossom scheme, which is being run by London-based charity The Urban Orchard Project.

The scheme will see 100 new orchards planted across Britain during the next two years, and will give up to 4000 people access to new skills.

The plans have already received the backing of brewing giant Heineken – and organisers are now on the hunt for community groups across the Capital and the surrounding Lothians that are keen to take ownership over their own orchard project.

David Paterson, Heineken’s head of corporate responsibility and a former Edinburgh University student, said the campaign will improve the health and wellbeing of *residents in the city.

“Helping Britain Blossom is all about giving communities the knowledge and tools they need to make a difference on their doorstep,” he said.

“We will train local people to be orchard leaders, providing advice and support on all aspects of orchard management and provide the expert advice as well as the resources for activities to help them get the greatest benefits from their orchards.”

Wester Hailes Community Council leader John Aitchison says his neighbourhood has been “crying out” for a project like Helping Britain Blossom. “There are so many people, especially young people, in the area that just don’t get outside. They sit inside staring at screens, playing computer games, and never stop to get out into the neighbourhood and interact with others.

“A community orchard would help bring cohesion to diverse areas like Wester Hailes, and that’s something we’ve been crying out for for quite some time.”

Key focus area project leaders are looking to develop not only inner-city Edinburgh, but also parts of West Lothian like Bathgate.

The area will be part of the campaign’s trial phase, which will see up to 40 orchards planted between Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Herefordshire during the next 12 months. Then, a second phase will take place during 2016 that will see another 60 orchards organised in Manchester, Leeds and another area that has yet to be decided.

Communities in the Lothians interested in one of ten slots for the project are encouraged to contact the Helping Britain Blossom campaign online for more information.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Four designs for baby ashes memorial garden unveiled

STV Edinburgh - 30th January, 2015

Four designs have been unveiled for a memorial to the victims of the baby ashes scandal at Mortonhall.

The memorial garden will be built at the Edinburgh crematorium and is to be one of two erected in the city.

For more than four decades the ashes of stillborn and premature babies were not offered to parents at the crematorium.

Since the practices came to light in 2012, affected parents have been working with the council.

They will now have the choice of four designs for the memorial at Mortonhall.

A second memorial will be built elsewhere in the city so that parents who do not want to return to the crematorium have somewhere to go and grieve. A range of locations have been suggested and are being narrowed down.

Parents feel it is important there are two places to go as some do not want to return to the crematorium.

Willie Reid, whose daughter Donna was cremated at Mortonhall in 1988 thought he would not be able to go back.

He said: "Initially I thought it’s a place I never ever want to go back to. On reflection, that was the last place I had Donna in my arms and Mortonhall seems the right and proper place for the memorial to be."

Work on the memorial garden will start in the spring and the council are hopeful it will be finished by the autumn.

Parents have been involved at every step of the consultation process, something which has been an important part of the process.

Dorothy Maitland, who uncovered the practices in her former role at Sands Lothian, said it has helped parents deal with the scandal.

She said: "It has helped people just to see the plans go forward. I think it’s been very important how quickly it’s happened – for that I’m very thankful. We have been very involved and that’s been very important."

The designs will go before a full meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council next week before parents decide which one will be built.

Chief executive of the council Sue Bruce said: "We now have potential memorial designs and we are asking the parents to consider which ones they would like us to take forward. We want to make sure the designs reflect their wishes and I would ask families to let us know their thoughts.

"We will continue our work on the group to ensure that nothing like this can happen again and that the highest possible standards are adhered to at Mortonhall."

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Locals plea to save 'forgotten' medieval walled garden

STV Edinburgh - 1st March, 2015

A medieval walled garden believed to be the oldest in Edinburgh is being championed by a Granton community group.

Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, which is owned by Edinburgh Council, were told that officials were 'minded to grant' a planning application to build on the site in 2004.

But over ten years later, the future of the garden is in limbo as Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd have failed to build on the site and awareness of the historic value of the garden grows.

The Friends of Granton Castle Walled Garden gave a deputation at Edinburgh Council’s Planning Committee and called on councillors to withdraw the current ‘minded to grant' planning application for 17 townhouses.

Kirsty Sutherland, horticulturist and a member of the 80-strong community group, says it is vital that the “horticultural history” associated with the site is treasured and that the forgotten garden is given a new lease of life.

"Our group was really heartened by the chance to speak openly at Planning Committee, about our dreams for this garden's restoration & safeguarding in the future. It's rarity, age and regional significance seemed to be taken on board by the planning committee members," Kirsty told STV.

"We felt the issues raised regarding the planning 'loophole' resulting in this situation will be remedied in the future.

"Our hope is that when the individual planning application to demolish and build within the walled garden is reviewed, the 'minded to grant' status given in 2003, will finally be withdrawn. Indefinite planning permission isn't the norm and is problematic when circumstances change or new information comes to light.

"This would allow our Friends Group to open a genuine dialogue with the owners Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, our wish to continue the horticultural use of this ancient garden, restoring it and opening it to the community, instead of it lost to luxury housing."

As part of the written briefing to councillors, the community group stated their reasons for why the garden is a green space worth preserving.

It read: “Recent evidence pieced together shows the garden's use in the Stewart era by owner Sir Thomas Hope, first Lord Advocate of Scotland.

“The 2012 publication by RCAHMS, aptly named Scotland's Lost Gardens, highlights the fact that very few gardens survived from this time.

“Granton Castle Walled Garden is near miraculous in its survival from late medieval times to the present day.

“It offers the opportunity for genuine community led restoration, planning, management and operation of a 'living link' to the past.

“Our history and culture are entwined in this ancient walled garden, and we feel it deserves a chance to survive.

“Quality openspace of such historic and environmental significance is very rare on the industrialised waterfront at Granton.”

It is over ten years since planners first gave the green light for 17 residential units to be built on the garden.

Despite planners attempts to conclude a deal with Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, final terms on the planning application have, to date, not been agreed.

A spokesperson for Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd confirmed to STV that the firm remains committed to preserving the listed wall and dovecote on the site, but still plan to build on the two-acres of garden, despite growing local opposition to proposals which are now more than ten years old.

“Discussions have been ongoing with Friends of Granton Castle Garden, and we recognise the historic significance of this site,” Mark Harris, Senior Development Manager, Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, said.

“Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd is thoroughly committed to the preservation of the listed wall and dovecote on the site, through our plans that would complement this historic asset.

“The plans have the regeneration of Granton at their core and will provide much-needed family housing and help deal with the city’s housing shortage.

"Our plans also aim to provide open public green space in a prominent location, which will benefit the whole community."

Speaking at the Planning Committee, David Leslie, Edinburgh Council’s acting head of planning, explained the current planning position: "An application was made in December 2003. That was considered at Development Management Sub-Committee in October 2004. The decision then was 'minded to grant' planning permission for 17 residential units within the walled garden and form a new access.

"That was subject to a legal agreement being signed. That legal agreement has never been signed by the applicant so the correct status is, as the deputation said, a live planning application at minded to grant consent stage.

"Legacy applications are planning applications which are in the system and, in our view, nothing has happened for a year. We are encouraged by the Scottish Government to undertake a periodic review of all application that are sitting without any live action within our system.

"What do we do in carrying out that exercise? We write to all applicants asking if they wish to progress the application or can we consider it to be withdrawn.

"They can do a number of things. One, they can agree that its withdrawn. Two, they can totally ignore our request and we put a time limit on that, and, if they ignore it, we will consider it by default as withdrawn.

"But, in this case, as in many cases, the applicant indicated they wanted to keep it as a live application.

"We then asked what action would keep it live and we were told, in this case, they would like to continue to agree the terms of the legal agreement.

"Obviously, that's not yet completed because its still a legacy application. A legacy application can be taken off the books either by being withdrawn or being decided."

In this way Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd has kept the gardens in a kind of planning system limbo.

And although Waterfront Edinburgh Limited is wholly owned by the the council, a spokesperson for the council would not comment on the position taken by the firm because the site is subject to a 'live planning application."

An official at the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland (RCAHMS) confirmed that the listed structures on the site had been nominated for inclusion on the Buildings at Risk Register, with a formal assessment likely to be undertaken by heritage experts within months.

'One of the lost gardens'

For Kirsty Sutherland, the two acres of walled garden has too much history and heritage to not be restored and carried on its original use.

“It is so precious to us and people in the area - It is a living link with over 500 years of horticultural history and we would like to see that horticultural history preserved," Kirsty said during the Planning Committee on February 26.

“There's many other brownfield areas on the waterfront that are ripe for development for housing which obviously is needed but we don't think this gardens should be lost to housing - it is one of the lost gardens.

“It is very neglected and overgrown because it has been left locked up for the last eight years.

“In terms of health and wellbeing, green spaces are vital.”

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Charlotte Square gardens to open for public events

The Scotsman - 1st May, 2015

The garden at the heart of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian square is set to be opened up for a host of public events for the first time under plans for a £1 million makeover.

City centre managers are in talks with the proprietors of Charlotte Square about opening up regular access to its private gardens, which date back to 1808, but are rarely used.

The New Town space is normally only accessible to the public during the Edinburgh International Book Festival, but is then rendered almost unusable because of the damage caused by the event, which attracts more than 220,000 people a year.

A major makeover of the garden to make it suitable for hosting events throughout the year is part of an emerging long-term vision for the square.

The project, expected to cost up to £1 million, would involve new floral displays and pathways through the garden, creating paved areas where large marquees could be installed, installing power supplies and improving its drainage systems and soil structure.

The plan is being discussed in the wake of the success of opening up St Andrew Square garden, at the east end of George Street, in 2003, after agreement was reached between Edinburgh City Council and property owners. It has since become host to events including Fringe shows, a festive ice rink, visual art installations and film screenings.

City chiefs believe securing regular public access to Charlotte Square’s garden will help the west end of the city compete better with the east end, which will be transformed by the forthcoming St James Centre redevelopment.

Willie Gray Muir, managing director of Sundial Properties, one of the Charlotte Square owners, said: “The garden is the centre of probably one of the most important urban spaces anywhere in Europe.

“We’re very supportive of the book festival and think it’s a fantastic use of the square. It’s allowed the festival to become one of the really major events for the city. We don’t charge them anything, we just hand the site over to them each year. But there is an issue as it takes a very heavy toll on the garden.

“It’s a problem, but it’s one we want to solve. It’s not the proprietors that are preventing other uses, it is the fact that the book festival does an enormous amount of damage to the ground. It’s almost unusable for the rest of the year as it needs the time to recover.

“We’d very much like to have the ability to put things up and down quicker, and have infrastructure installed so it could be used in other ways, for other sorts of events, and to give other people the chance to use it. We’re talking about controlled, but regular access.”

A spokesman for the Charlotte Square Proprietors Association said: “The proprietors are actively working with the book festival and other users of the gardens to ensure that access can be made available for suitable events throughout the year.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of business group Essential Edinburgh, which manages St Andrew Square garden, said: “It would be in everyone’s interests to see the square used more often. There is definitely a potential willingness among the owners to look at what may happen in the future. People are keen to investigate the possibility of using it more often.

“If you look at the success of St Andrew Square in terms of the events there and the way it has become a visitor attraction, to have something at the west end as well would be great.”

151 Posts
I know the edinburgh evening news regulars are a miserable lot but I am genuinely shocked that plans to open up Charlotte square to the public could receive so many negative responses. A few comments site St Andrews Square as a prime example of why nothing should change... Surely said square is now one of the finest spaces in the city?!

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mortonhall memorial garden to move on-site

Urban Realm - 29th May, 2015

A preferred design for a memorial garden commemorating babies cremated without their parents’ consent at Mortonhall Cremtorium has been chosen by families affected by the scandal.

This will see a circular walled garden and water feature built off an existing memorial walkway close to the main chapel and will include beech hedges, birch trees and a stone ball water feature.

Based on the concept of a ‘madala’ symbol the design seeks to represent the universe and as a symbol for having no end.

Edinburgh City Council chief executive Sue Bruce said: “This was a difficult process for everyone involved but it was important to hear the views of all affected parents and reflect their wishes.

“The walled water feature garden will provide a tranquil area for reflection.”

Work will start on the memorial next month for completion by November.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
PAN from the council for the proposed Little France Park, between ERI/BioQuarter and Greendykes. Interestingly, this includes the same land as the proposed Edmonstone Home Farm housing development, which submitted a rival PAN last week.

15/03231/PAN | The proposals include development of the existing open space into public parkland. The development will include new active travel links with lighting, paths, landscaping, habitat creation/enhancement and tree planting. | South East Wedge Development Site Old Dalkeith Road Edinburgh

4,296 Posts
PAN from the council for the proposed Little France Park, between ERI/BioQuarter and Greendykes. Interestingly, this includes the same land as the proposed Edmonstone Home Farm housing development, which submitted a rival PAN last week.

15/03231/PAN | The proposals include development of the existing open space into public parkland. The development will include new active travel links with lighting, paths, landscaping, habitat creation/enhancement and tree planting. | South East Wedge Development Site Old Dalkeith Road Edinburgh
Yes - looks like CEC is minded to keep that green corridor intact. I hope they do.

13,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
£1m park plan for old Portobello High School site

Edinburgh Evening News - 5th August, 2015

It was a saga that stirred up years of tension in the Portobello community.

Building a new high school on protected parkland caused plenty of controversy, with opponents bemoaning the loss of green space.

But residents across the seaside town are now being brought together to decide how to spend £1 million which has been set aside to replace Portobello Park – on the site of the olds chool.

They will be canvassed on their thoughts for a design and name for the new park, which will sit alongside the new St John’s Primary and should be ready by the end of 2018.

Community leaders today welcomed the move – but they stressed the green space would have to be innovative.

Sean Watters, secretary at Portobello Community Council, said: “We have Rosefield Park and Figgate Park, and we’ve got the beach, so whatever they do in this park, it has to be different and it has to meet a different sort of need.

“When the idea of a park was discussed as the Bill [to build the school on Portobello Park] was going through parliament, there was talk about people wanting orchards and growing spaces.

“There were people angling for some kind of skate park or youth area. There’s been a variety of suggestions. Maybe it could be something specific such as a space for the disabled. It’s about the kind of park that suits people who cannot use the existing parks easily.”

Park managers at the council said they would launch an online survey on Monday.

Other planned events include a door-to-door consultation of homes surrounding the proposed park, as well as meetings at street stalls and libraries.

The Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust said it would use public feedback to develop three draft design options for consideration, allowing the final blueprint to be put together by spring next year.

Mr Watters said the investment created huge opportunities for the town.

“People have lots of opinions about it,” he said. “£1 million is a lot of money – it will go a long way – [and] this will be a great asset.”

City leaders have hailed the consultation launch.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said: “These contributions will play a vital role in determining the final design and will help us to create a thriving green space for all of the community to enjoy.”

Education leaders secured permission last summer to build a £41m replacement school in Portobello Park – six years after the plan was first approved.

Local residents opposed to the proposals successfully appealed to the Court of Session, plunging the project into uncertainty.

The city council was forced to take a Private Bill through the Scottish Parliament in a bid to switch the park’s legal status and open it up for education-related development. Work is now under way on the school.
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