Suntrap supporters get growth in funds

Isobel Lodge pushes a wheel barrow through the Suntrap Garden. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it is facing budget cuts that are opposed by the Save our Suntrap group. Photo: Dan Phillips
Isobel Lodge pushes a wheel barrow through the Suntrap Garden. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it is facing budget cuts that are opposed by the Save our Suntrap group. Photo: Dan Phillips
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the historic Suntrap Garden have received a £57,000 boost towards their bid to buy the site.

The three-acre oasis in Gogar is being sold by joint owners the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and Oatridge College for £700,000.

Save our Suntrap is hoping to buy the land and secure the future development of the garden.

Campaigners believe the owners will not be able to sell the land for £700,000 in the current climate and are “hopeful” they will be able to secure the land for a smaller price tag.

In the meantime, they are asking if they can rent the land while negotiations continue.

Isobel Lodge, chair of Save our Suntrap, said: “We are very pleased with the money we have been awarded. We are now looking for match funding and are doing various fundraising activities. We don’t think in today’s climate £700,000 is reasonable. What we are looking to do is to get it for a peppercorn rent in the meantime.

“We are hopeful we can get the site, particularly now that we have got this £57,000.”

Campaigners revealed earlier this year they were hoping to eventually raise £1.5 million to expand the gardens.

Their proposals for the future include creating a living museum in Millbuies House, a refurbishment of the Italian sunken garden, a new cafe, water sculptures and a children’s educational garden.

Mrs Lodge added: “We don’t feel that we need to aim for £1.5m straight away – that’s part of our ten-year plan. What we really need is to get ourselves kickstarted.”

It was announced last year that Oatridge College would have to give up the garden – which it used as a training site for amateur gardeners and people with severe learning difficulties for more than 25 years – after being faced with a £750,000 repair bill. The NTS was this week granted planning permission to change the use of the gardens and buildings from educational use back to domestic use.

But campaigners do not believe the decision by the council’s planning committee will affect their plans to keep and expand the garden, which was created by philanthropist and amateur gardener George Boyd Anderson in 1957.

He bequeathed it to the NTS and the old Edinburgh Corporation in 1972. In 1984, upkeep of the site was handed over to Oatridge College. It became a Centre for Lifelong Learning in 2001.

The £57,000 was awarded to Save our Suntrap through the George Boyd Anderson Trust “in the event that the house and gardens continue to be made available for public use, for repairs to the house and surrounding garden”.

City education leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: “This decision is in keeping with the tradition in which the Boyd Anderson Trust was set up, giving access for young people to outdoor pursuits.”