Morningside gardens to be bulldozed for hospital

Jim McColl and Carole Baxter of the Beechgrove Garden at the Royal Edinburgh site. Picture: Gareth Easton
Jim McColl and Carole Baxter of the Beechgrove Garden at the Royal Edinburgh site. Picture: Gareth Easton
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A COMMUNITY garden which featured on TV show The Beechgrove Garden is to be demolished as part of the redevelopment of a hospital.

Run by the charity Edinburgh Cyrenians, the Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens will be bulldozed as part of NHS Lothian’s redesign of their Morningside site.

The garden, set up in 2010, offers patients, the community and school groups the ­opportunity to grow their own food and keep active.

It helps people who may face barriers to being involved in activities due to complex needs.

An episode of the BBC show was devoted to the development of the plot and helped the community create the garden.

‘Great shame’

Green councillor Gavin Corbett, who was involved in setting up the garden in 2010, described the loss as a blow.

He said: “It’s a great shame that the current community garden looks as if it will be destroyed to make way for a building housing laundry and other services.

It’s been a model project, and a flagship for NHS Lothian in building connections between patients at the Royal Edinburgh and the wider community.

“To keep that goodwill, NHS Lothian needs to make a firm commitment now, to replace the garden with a site of the same size, by no later than ­September 2014, and ­offering the same access for local schools and local residents as is currently enjoyed.”

Staff and volunteers from the project met with Dick ­Fitzpatrick, project manager of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital redevelopment, NHS Lothian, and Kezia Dugdale MSP to discuss the relocation.

Site to be redeveloped

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “We are still finalising our masterplan for the whole of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital site and are in close discussion with the Cyrenians team regarding the relocation, in the short term, of the community garden.

“In the longer term we are creating a Public Social Partnership (PSP) which will involve working and consulting with a range of partners including patients, volunteers, the Cyrenians and other interested parties to help develop a therapeutic outside environment.”

“We recognise the importance of outdoor space and the therapeutic benefits it brings.”

A spokesman for the Cyrenians described recent meeting with NHS Lothian as “informative”.

He added: “The news of the proposed relocation was balanced with encouraging news for both the short- and longer- term vision for the gardens and green areas in the future.

“The NHS Redevelopment team emphasised how much they recognise the importance of the RECG gardens as a ­community facility.”

The NHS redevelopment team is producing a plan for the site with the draft to be submitted to Scottish Government in August.