‘Oil drum’ tree planters ignite protests in Leith

Residents seem less than impressed with the big blue planters. Picture: Neil Hanna
Residents seem less than impressed with the big blue planters. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THEY are meant to brighten Leith’s industrial streetscape – but these new tree holders have got residents screaming blue murder.

The large royal blue pots have ignited a storm of protest from seething locals who have likened them to upturned oil drums or a “terrorist deterrent made by a primary school class”.

The five hornbeam saplings in their metal planters appeared, well, out of the blue yesterday morning – triggering a wave of complaints from bewildered residents.

Rather than embracing the new urban greenery – located at Maritime Street and north of Bernard Street – Leithers have branded them “unsightly carbuncles” and said the pots would never be countenanced in Edinburgh’s treasured Old Town.

But the council says community groups were consulted about the trees, which will make “a colourful addition to the area”.

Lawrie Smith, publican at the Port O’ Leith, railed against the “ridiculous” new addition outside his Constitution Street watering hole.

He said: “No-one who lives around here can believe what the council has put up, they’re horrible. It cheapens the neighbourhood – they look like they’ve floated in off the docks.

“There is no way something like this would appear in the Old Town or George Street.”

And Mr Smith said residents were clinging to the hope that the city will clad the blue steel planters in something less “garish and in your face”.

Alex Wilson, chairman of Leith Business Association, said their calls for tree-lined streets had been answered – but said the execution wasn’t quite how they anticipated.

Painting the pots grey to match the Caithness Stone slabs of the pavement might help to “mitigate their look”, he said. He added: “Do they look third rate? Of course they do. Are they perhaps better than nothing? For the time being, yes. They are not new, they have been recycled from some other project elsewhere.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro is aware of the “mixed reviews” but said they weren’t yet the “finished article”.

He said: “The EH6 postcode has the greatest number of creatives in this city and there will be someone who will make this even more suitable for Leith. I think once the plants go in and are in full bloom they will add to the ambience of the area.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment convener, said widespread consultation was carried out with locals, which found people wanted “greenery and planting in the area”.

She said: “Subsequent feedback from stakeholders showed that they were not in favour of the original grey colour proposed for the planters, so the Leith blue colour was chosen to complement the blue lampposts on the shore.

“As the young hornbeam trees mature and seasonal plants and flowers are added around the base of the trees, they will make a colourful addition to the area.”