Exhibition turns spotlight on Craigmillar

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IT is one of the biggest communities in Edinburgh, and somewhere which has seen more than its fair share of shifting fortunes over the centuries.

And now residents of Craigmillar are being invited to take a look back at part of the history of the area – while learning about the ambitious plans to reshape its future.

The settlement, around the impressive Craigmillar Castle, goes back to the 14th century – although it was in 1924 that the local council started to rebuild the landscape and create large-scale housing in the area.

The Craigmilllar estate, immediately below the castle, was planned in 1936, and was considered a beacon of modern living – until problems with social deprivation saw it slide into violence and poverty in the 1980s and 1990s.

This week the EDI Group announced it would hold two community information events on June 27 and 29 at The White House – the iconic pub that was one of the most high-profile structures to be preserved from the old Craigmillar – to discuss the future of the area.

And as well as a chance to look at designs for the future, visitors will be able to look over a series of portraits looking at the area in the 1990s, from its playparks and shop shutters to the housing schemes and vivid murals.

Allan McGregor’s Breathing Space exhibition is a documentary-style portrayal of suburban areas of Scotland’s Capital including Craigmillar, Niddrie, Greendykes and Newcraighall.

This is the first time the full-scale exhibition will be on show to the public, showcasing over 60 monochromatic images of the local areas during the severe economic decline of the early nineties.

It was a time just after riots in Craigmillar sparked by a concern about a lack of public facilities.

Mark Harris, head of development – regeneration at the EDI Group Ltd, said the aim was to transform Craigmillar for the future.

“The regeneration of Craigmillar has been EDI’s largest development programme since the project began in 2002,” he said.

“It covers four key areas: Wauchope Square, town centre, Greendykes and the South East Wedge Parkland.

“Our vision is to regenerate Craigmillar to create a welcoming, sustainable and balanced community where people want to live and work.” And he said that the new plans would include replacements for the open-air public areas which had been either lost or allowed to deteriorate over time.

“EDI’s proposals, through Parc Craigmillar, include over 1800 homes, three schools, new commercial, retail and restaurant facilities, as well as substantial public realm improvements which will incorporate a new town centre square and over 100 acres of parkland,” he said. “The regeneration of Craigmillar is gaining momentum with the retail component of the new town centre likely to open in 2016 with leading retailers Lidl and Home Bargains.”

It is hoped work on more new housing in the area could “increase significantly” next year – with Barratt Homes committing to an additional 158 homes due to commence on-site in spring 2016. The informal drop-in events will be an opportunity for residents to find out more about the recent announcements for the Town Centre, as well as Wauchope and Greendykes.

And alongside the grainy images of the area’s recent past will be a colourful CGI rendition of how it is expected to look in years to come.

n The drop-in events will be held on Saturday, June 27, and Monday, June 29, from 10am to 4pm at The White House.