Leith resident draws up plans for skate park on the Links

A dad from Leith concerned about “shocking” lack of outdoor facilities has created plans for a skate park at Links park.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 12:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 1:27 pm

Gordon Carmichael, 39, said the Links which has five schools nearby, was “crying out” for a skate park to match facilities available in other areas of the city.

The dad-of-two said while the area has had recent upgrades to play park at the Links for younger children, he feels there is a “shocking” lack of investment in outdoor facilities and recreation for young people and families, including sports pitches.

After creating an aerial picture of his proposal and posting it on social media he has been surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response.

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How the skatepark could look Image: V J Aerial Imaging

His original vision was for a park in the bowling green area at the Links. But with Leith Gardens closed to traffic since the pandemic started under Edinburgh Council's Spaces for People initiative, he says he sees that as the location with best potential for a park to be installed.

He said: “I thought if that road stays closed, imagine the possibilities for that space. When you look at other parts of the city like Saughton, Drylaw, Portobello and others, there are decent skate parks and a track at Holyrood park. Leith is crying out for a skate park! The others are all just that bit away from here, it would be great to have one on our doorstep.

"The play park here used to be unloved then the council really improved it. Now that the population is going to skyrocket, with all the new housing developments, I look around and just don’t see enough investment in parks and facilities. Little kids are fairly well served but it’s time to provide some quality facilities for older ones. My kids are 6 and 8. I look ahead to when they are older and there’s a real lack of places to go and hang out.”

“Most people were supportive of the idea but some expressed concerns that it would be a magnet for kids to hang about. That’s kind of the point! Having alternative options for outdoors is so important and we have a massive under supply.

"Even when you look at 5-aside pitches, it’s limited. Same for tennis courts. We need these facilities to be available here on a much bigger scale. I tend not to play tennis with the kids because it’s always too busy. That’s sad. I’d really love to see this idea take off. I hope the community can all put heads together and make something of it.”

Mr Carmichael, owner of a marketing and design consultancy, has been contacted by a few community groups since sharing his plans online. But he says he would like to see the council spearhead a project to get the park off the ground.

"My plans are a starter for ten. I hope it kick starts ideas and gets people pulling together to make it happen. Even if it’s not a skate park, maybe people would prefer basketball courts or some other facility. The council could lead on it. I’m up for being involved in it. And creating a friends of the Links, like other parks have. That could be a next step. It will be interesting to see where this leads.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener said: “Increasing opportunities for sport and physical activity is something we’re really committed to doing as a council. We’ve invested in Leith Links park where the revamped and very well received facility is now one of the largest and most accessible play spaces in the capital and includes a parkour unit and a Rolli trampoline for wheelchair users. We’ve also recently invested in a new pump track at Hunter’s Hall Park which officially opened in November, joining one at the Crags Sport Centre.”

Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener added: “We know there are lots of keen skaters in Leith and it’s exciting that there are plans afoot for a new facility in Hawthornvale by Leith DIY, who are also behind the skate ramp in the new community hub on the site of the old tram depot on Leith Walk.”

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