Suntrap group fails to raise money to save site for public

The Suntrap Garden
The Suntrap Garden
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A CAMPAIGN to keep a 
historic garden in the Capital in public hands is dead, its leaders have admitted.

Members of Friends of Suntrap, who wanted to turn Millbuies House and the adjacent grounds into a heritage and horticulture education centre, said they had failed to raise the funds necessary to buy the property and that their bid to run it independently had failed.

However, they said they still hoped to work with whoever buys the site after it was put on the open market by joint owners Oatridge College and the National Trust for Scotland.

Isobel Lodge, secretary of Friends of Suntrap, said: “We have been unable to raise the money to put in an offer for the property – the deadline for that has now passed.

“Our only hope to continue as an organisation that provides therapeutic gardening and horticulture classes is if the buyers coming in are willing to work with us, but we understand that the people negotiating to buy the site may not be interested in us being involved.

“We are very disappointed and sad, but I just do not know what more we could have done. It’s such a shame that this opportunity has been lost. The house and gardens are a very valuable resource.”

Ms Lodge stressed that she wanted to thank those who backed the bid, but criticised the difficulties experienced by Friends of Suntrap in raising the money to fund it.

She said: “I would not say we have received a massive amount of help in terms of getting money together.

“The city council has been very supportive, but the only financial backing on offer was £57,000 from the George Boyd Anderson Fund, and we couldn’t access that without having agreed a lease or owning the property.”

The announcement that campaigners had given up on buying the house and adjacent 
gardens, known as Suntrap, was described as “massively disappointing“ by local politicians.

Mike Crockart, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, said: “It’s sad that the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College will both now profit to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and that we could not manage to work with an active volunteer group like the Suntrap campaigners to come to some sort of arrangement over this.

“I think this says a lot about the need for support in Edinburgh for community groups.

“That seems to be the 
stumbling block – getting a business plan that would work and which campaigners could then take to possible funders.”

He added: “I’m massively disappointed. I hope that whoever comes in will be able to work with the excellent volunteers to ensure that some part of what has been going on there can continue.”