Locals invited to give their ideas on future use of derelict clubhouse on Leith Links

Local groups are being invited to put forward ideas for the transformation of a derelict bowling green clubhouse and the surrounding land at Leith Links.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

A community campaign persuaded the council to drop plans to demolish the single-storey stone building and Leith Links community council is now leading a consultation on the future use of the clubhouse.

Suggestions gathered so far include a skatepark, quiet flower garden, BMX tracks, a bandstand for live music and mini music festivals, art workshops and exhibition space, bicycle repair workshop, crazy golf, fenced basketball court, outdoor lido and fitness hub.

The former clubhouse has already been given a fresh coat of paint

Leith-based community interest company Bare Branding has also put forward proposals to turn the building into Scotland’s first fully-sustainable printworks.

A community picnic is being planned for the Links in July to raise awareness among more of the park users about the plans afoot.

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Sally Millar, secretary of the community council, said: “There have been three public meetings online, attended by well over 100 people altogether, all brimming with enthusiasm and ideas for new uses for the area and the old clubhouse building.”

The council had planned to demolish the derelict building until a community campaign forced a change of heart

She said the council had wanted to demolish the building, claiming it was in disrepair and attracting anti-social behaviour, but locals believed the best way to discourage anti-social behaviour was to bring it into productive use again.

“Supported by Councillor Rob Munn, the council has now agreed to back off until the community has had its say on what they would like to see happen in the area."

Ms Millar said most of the ideas were still at the “aspirational” stage, though one or two were more developed. “What is certain is that the local community is not going to leave it to the council to decide without consultation and that the building needs to be an open resource for the community, not a private commercial venture.

“This park was gifted as common good land, for the well-being of the people of Leith and the local community is determined to be involved in decision-making and taking part in the regeneration of the area.”

She said there had once been a thriving bowling club in this north west corner of Leith Links, but as the sport became less popular the bowling greens closed. The clubhouse had been used for storing bowls and was also the base for the “parkie” who used to rent out clubs for the putting green, also now defunct.

But she is optimistic about a new use being found for the building.

“Even the council has entered into the new spirit of improvement and, prodded by Councillor Chas Booth, has at last repainted the outside of the building. There is talk of a possible mural. Hopefully the interior will be reinstated from vandal damage. Temporary public toilets are due to be installed beside the building next week, and there is speculation as to whether part of the building itself could house a permanent public toilet facility.

“Leith Links has been a fabulous resource for the community through these pandemic months of outdoor living, and public toilets are much needed and long overdue.”

She sad the results of the consultation on the future of the clubhouse and surrounding land would be reported to the council, probably at the end of the summer.

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