Anger as Hunters Hall Park cut off by £11m moat

Jimmy Cameron, with dog Bruno, says no-one ventures to the park now due to the Niddrie Burn works. Picture: Julie Bull
Jimmy Cameron, with dog Bruno, says no-one ventures to the park now due to the Niddrie Burn works. Picture: Julie Bull
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A “MEDIEVAL-style moat” has left a community cut off from a once-loved local park following a major restoration project to create a storm drain.

Fed-up residents claim Hunters Hall Park in Greendykes is now almost abandoned following the £11 million scheme designed to breathe new life into the burn by installing bridges, seats and railings.

The park – once a proud home to neighbourhood gala days – has been divided by a storm drain which was opened last year and now runs from the neighbourhood to the Jack Kane Centre – with no crossing for half a mile in either direction.

Despite early blueprints indicating a bridge would be built as part of the plans, a shortfall in funding meant the project had to be scaled back and the proposed crossing mothballed.

But now community watchdogs are poised to go to the courts in a bid to secure what had been originally promised amid claims they were never told about the pared-down project.

Paul Nolan, of Craigmillar Community Council, claimed he had evidence to prove the city council “mismanaged” the project and residents had been kept in the dark.

The group is set to lodge a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman later this month.

Mr Nolan: “Niddrie is surrounded by a large medieval-style moat, and people are denied the access to the park which they have had for 40 years. It has been poorly costed, badly managed and has not delivered any of the environmental benefits promised.”

The city said a lack of finance forced it to downsize the project in 2010 and additional works could still be carried out in the coming years “if funding can be identified”.

David Walker, Labour councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, said he had repeatedly demanded answers over the “deplorable situation”.

He said: “It appears that the council took the decision to only complete half the project, but no-one thought to inform the local community.

“The community surrounding Hunters Hall has effectively been cut off from a park that was once on their doorstep and there doesn’t seem to be any strategy or plans in place to complete the project.”

Jimmy Cameron, chairman of the Hunters Hall Housing Co-operative, said: “We used to hold our gala days in the park, but no-one ventures there now.”

The project was launched last summer after 1.8km of the Niddrie Burn was realigned.

City environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “The project’s scope had to be revised from what was included in the original planning consent due to a lack of funding. We would hope to see the elements which were descoped from the planning consent carried out in the coming years if funding can be identified for these.”