Housing proposals halt ideas for green space

Campaigner Jim Ferguson with dogs Zara and Zelda in Curriemuirend Park. Picture: Toby Williams

Campaigner Jim Ferguson with dogs Zara and Zelda in Curriemuirend Park. Picture: Toby Williams

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HOPES of bringing new activities to a park have been dashed because the land has been earmarked for housing in the Capital’s planning blueprint.

Campaigners say that Curriemuirend Park in Juniper Green is one of the few areas of open ground in a part of the city which does not meet the target for green space.

But the park is included as a site for up to 180 new homes in the Local Development Plan (LDP) due to be considered by councillors next week.

Jim Ferguson, chairman of the Friends of Curriemuirend Park, said more than 480 people had objected to the move when the plan was put out to consultation last year – more than for any other single proposal in the LDP.

He said plans drawn up to increase the number of people using the park had been scuppered by the housing plan.

Mr Ferguson said: “There are a lot of elderly people living in the area and we have been to see other parks which have outdoor gyms. The idea was to have a trail with equipment that would suit all ages and sports clubs in the area have expressed an interest in it. There were also ideas for a cycle track and a running track around the park. It’s nice and hilly – it would be ideal for mountain biking.

“But it has all completely run into the ground because of the LDP. The council was originally supporting us, but then said they could not agree to it going forward for funding while it was in the LDP.”

He said the park was important not only for Juniper Green but also Baberton, Clovenstone and other nearby communities.

He said: “The council guidelines say everyone should have a park within 800 metres. There are very few green areas here – they seem to be building houses everywhere.”

Richard Watt, secretary of Juniper Green community council said the park was totally unsuitable as an area for development.

He said: “It’s right between Wester Hailes Road and the City Bypass and there is a problem of access.

“One suggestion is Wester Hailes Road could be narrowed to allow a sliproad into the new development, but there is already congestion there so that would just make it worse.

“The city council had a feasibility study that concluded that at the moment it would not be economically viable to develop that piece of land.”

Pentland Hills Conservative councillor Dom Heslop backed the campaigners. He said: “It’s one of the only parks in the Juniper Green/Wester Hailes area and the Friends of Curriemuirend Park have been working extremely hard to preserve it,

“This area received the highest number of objections.”