Park space takes root on derelict wasteland

EDI's Jim Kelly at the site in Craigmillar
EDI's Jim Kelly at the site in Craigmillar
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AN eyesore site in Craigmillar that has lain derelict for more than five years has been transformed into parkland boasting wildflowers and native trees.

The converted plot, which is the size of a football pitch, has been planted with around 1000 trees and 500 bulbs as part of a £30,000 pilot regeneration project designed to improve the character of the area.

Located at the base of the joint campus shared by Niddrie Mill Primary School and St Francis RC Primary, it is hoped the new green space will be used to host community events and activities.

The improvement project is part of a major drive to transform the Capital’s vacant and derelict land spearheaded by environment charity Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT).

The revamped site, which is earmarked for future development, was temporarily adapted into a grassy plot using 1000 tonnes of topsoil and featuring a network of paths aimed at encouraging safe routes for children travelling to the school campus. It will remain free from development for at least two years.

A planned housing 
development for the site has stalled due to the straightened 
economic climate.

Charlie Cumming, ELGT projects manager, said: “The purpose of this project has always been to try to make a positive from a negative, creating a green space that will make people feel better about their local environment and, importantly, to prove to local authorities, land owners and developers that investment in temporary greening is worthwhile.”

The 6000 sqm area was previously built up with housing but when residents were relocated more than a decade ago their empty homes had become the target of fireraisers and were later demolished.

Terry Tweed, chair of the Community Alliance Trust (Craigmillar), said the pilot project allowed the community to enjoy the space “whilst plans are prepared for its future development”.

The conversion follows a year-long consultation programme led by the ELGT involving residents, schoolchildren, community groups and the city council.

It has been funded by the Central Scotland Green Network, which lists the improvement of vacant and derelict land as one of its key priorities.

Ward councillor Mike 
Bridgman, who is a board director on development firm PARC – which owns the land – said: “This project fits PARC’s vision for the long-term transformation of Craigmillar that some of the land awaiting development can be put into good use and complement other regeneration activity 
currently taking place in the area.

“It is especially pleasing that the good work we are achieving here in Craigmillar will act as a catalyst to help drive other similar projects across the city. We want the Craigmillar project to be a showcase for the rest of the city, showing how unused land can be successfully transformed to the benefit of everyone, creating green spaces that will make people feel better about the local environment.”

The ongoing maintenance of the green space will be funded by PARC and carried out by the city council.