Comment: Should we be looking to expand access?

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FINDING out that Edinburgh’s fantastic parks are valuable to the city isn’t particularly revelatory.

Today for the first time, however, we can put a figure on just 
how valuable they are – and 
£114 million is an impressive total.

It doesn’t really mean anything of course, but it’s nice to know all the same.

What it does highlight is how important the green lungs of the city are to our health, wellbeing and local economy.

At a time of council cutbacks it is reassuring to see the city council ring fence our parks, so to speak.

And given the impressive return, should we not be looking to expand access to some of our under-used green spaces?

When you look at the transformation of St Andrew Square since it was redeveloped, the argument for imposing a similar model across the New Town seems strong.

The idea of Charlotte Square following suit has of course been suggested, but attempts in the past have failed.

But it is not just at the West End. There are more than 40 communal gardens across the New Town, where keyholders pay an annual fee for maintenance and the general public isn’t allowed in.

Of course there are challenges and no-one would suggest that opening the gates is straight-
forward.

It certainly would not be universally welcomed by local residents who currently enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

Then there’s the question of where the money is going to come from once the exclusive-use fees dry up, and even whether the grass would be cut at all under new council cutbacks.

Perhaps it could not happen everywhere and maybe there will never be full public access.

But surely something could be worked out to at least bring some of the most under-used gardens into public use.

Now that would be a revelation.