Bid to kick builders off city football park

Gerry Coppola is organising the protest
Gerry Coppola is organising the protest
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A CAMPAIGN group has been set up to save the former home of Spartans FC from being turned into a 200 apartment housing development.

Council-owned City Park, off Ferry Road is currently in the process of being sold to affordable housing developers the Link Group, which plans to build 164 low cost flats on the site – 40 private flats will also be constructed. Despite this, neighbouring residents hope to change the minds of council bosses and retain the football pitch and surrounding area as a community resource.

Just days after launching their campaign the group has attracted over 50 members with plans to draw up a petition and rally further support through social media.

Organiser Gerry Coppola said: “City Park isn’t just lying unused since Spartans left. Several grassroots clubs regularly train and play on the park and Spartans still use it.

“It’s a well-used community resource, locals walk their dogs on it and in the summer people often picnic there too. All of this will be lost if this development goes ahead.

“We are asking the council to conserve the park for the good of the community.”

Residents were spurred into action after letters dropped through their doors last week advertising an information evening on the development being held by the Link Group and builder J Smart & Co.

Should plans be approved they hope to start work in autumn 2013.’

Local opposition to the plans may prove futile as Spartan FC’s 2009 move to its new home at Ainslie Park was only possible as it was underwritten by the eventual £5 million sale of their former ground.

A council spokesperson said: “The option to improve open space nearby, made possible by the land being developed for housing, was first highlighted in the Edinburgh City Local Plan published in 2006. We are currently in negotiations with the developer to conclude the sale of the land.”

Link Group chief executive Craig Sanderson said: “The City of Edinburgh Council and Link both understand the significant lack of affordable homes in the Capital and believe that this proposed development will help to address that need and bring the site back into good use. Nevertheless, we recognise that a number of local residents are unhappy about the proposals and that is why we have organised events at which we will meet with them.”