Decision eases way to community buy or lease scheme

The  Save our Suntrap campaign can consider making a lottery cash bid
The Save our Suntrap campaign can consider making a lottery cash bid
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a west Edinburgh beauty spot have secured a major success after the site was granted listed status.

Historic Scotland has designated the Suntrap Garden as B-listed. The three-acre oasis in Gogar is being sold by joint owners the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College.

Save our Suntrap campaigners have been attempting to buy the gardens, which are estimated to be worth around £750,000.

The group believes the listing will slow the potential sale to another party and give it time to raise the necessary funds.

Isobel Lodge, chairwoman of Save our Suntrap, said the listing of the site was a huge boost for the campaign.

“The granting of listed status for the gardens is just wonderful. We’re feeling very much more positive.

“The next step for us is securing funding and getting a lease. Now that it is B-listed we can qualify for lottery funding, which we have been trying to get for a long time. This is a big development.”

The group is hoping to lease the gardens from the NTS and Oatridge College for much less than the asking price while funding is raised.

Ms Lodge added: “We are helped by the economic situation, which would make it hard for the owners to sell the gardens, and we hope by presenting this business case we can come to an arrangement to take over the running of the gardens.

“After a difficult period, we are entering a much better phase in our campaign.”

Oatridge College used the Suntrap Garden as a training site for amateur gardeners and people with severe learning difficulties for more than 25 years but announced in 2010 it would have to sell the site after being faced with a £750,000 repair bill.

Save our Suntrap wants to create a living museum in Millbuies House, a refurbishment of the Italian sunken garden, a new cafe, water sculptures and a children’s educational garden.

The garden was created by philanthropist and amateur gardener George Boyd Anderson in 1957.

He bequeathed it to the National Trust and Edinburgh Corporation in 1972. In 1984, upkeep of the site was handed over to Oatridge College and it became a centre for lifelong learning in 2001.

The site consists of the grounds of the former horticultural training centre, along with two ancillary outbuildings, which were previously used as a classroom and office.

Labour councillor Ricky Henderson, who has been involved with the campaign to keep the gardens open to the public, said: “I’m delighted when the news came through and I congratulate Save our Suntrap on their efforts.

“We need continued support to secure ongoing public access and this development is very welcome.”