Bill has preserved heritage in Capital

Bill Cantley has been involved in numerous campaigns. Picture: contributed
Bill Cantley has been involved in numerous campaigns. Picture: contributed
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Bill Cantley is retiring from the Cockburn Association Council after 33 years.

Born in Belfast in 1938 to an Edinburgh mother and Ulster father, Mr Cantley first expressed interest in urban design and development when, as an apprentice quantity surveyor in the 1950s, he joined the then Urban Renewal Belfast Society and later the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, before returning to Edinburgh in 1969.

He was aghast at the planning and development of the Bonaly private housing estate, to which he and his family had moved, and soon found himself chairing the committee of a new Bonaly Estate Residents’ Association.

Mr Cantley sought and won the support of the long-established Cockburn Association to campaign for better design and planning of the site on the threshold of the Pentlands.

By now he had also become active in the Colinton Amenity Association, serving as its transport committee convener and campaigning for the construction of the City Bypass.

The Cockburn Association was inviting nominations for election to its council and Mr Cantley was one of three local society members to be appointed and was given the role of local societies convener.

Career progress brought a move south in 1973 and it was not long before he found himself involved as chairman of the steering committee of the Croydon Society.

He returned to Edinburgh in 1981 after further promotion as superintending quantity surveyor for the Property Services Agency (PSA) and was immediately re-elected to the Cockburn Association Council.

His professional experience of the development industry and personal experience of caring for his disabled son equipped him to serve for some seven years on the Edinburgh Access Panel, examining planning applications and policy to ensure that they met the needs of the disabled.

After taking early retirement from the PSA in 1991, Mr Cantley held an industrial professorship in the Department of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University for some 16 years.

He took on the convenership of the Cockburn Association’s transport and planning committee in the mid-1980s and has continued to hold that post since, adding the vice-chairmanship of the association’s council in 1994.

He has been involved in many of the Cockburn Association’s campaigns including the recent Save Our Skyline campaign, which challenged a 17-storey hotel development on the boundary of the World Heritage Site, and the campaign in 1999 challenging the proposal to build a one-kilometre shopping mall under Princes Street.

Cockburn Association director Marion Williams said: “Bill’s contribution has been outstanding. We owe him our gratitude and I was delighted when the Lord Provost presented Bill with an Inspiring Volunteer Award in the arts, culture and heritage category last year in recognition of his dedication.”