ONE of the city’s most historic parks has been handed a multi-million-pound funding boost.
Saughton Park has been awarded £3.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore and improve its facilities.
The cash will enable a range of work to be carried out, including restoration of the walled garden – complete with new herbaceous borders and planting schemes – and refurbishment of the winter garden.
As well as this, the original bandstand will be reinstated and a new cafe and public toilet facilities built.
The park’s stables will also be restored and transformed into a new community venue, alongside “teaching and demonstration gardens”.
Council bosses said detailed design work for the plans would begin immediately, with construction starting next year and the newly restored park expected to be fully open by August 2018.
Shona Nelson, a member of the Friends of Saughton Park, welcomed the park’s cash boost.
She said: “We are delighted that Heritage Lottery Fund have chosen to make this award to Saughton Park. This will mean that we can really secure a future for the park, which is a great asset to our local community.
“The funding will make a massive difference as it will enable facilities to be improved significantly. New and existing members of our community and beyond will be encouraged to come and use the park, simply because it will be a much better experience.
“The Friends of Saughton Park will continue to work hard to support this. It is exciting that our historic park will be given a whole new lease of life.”
Saughton Park was originally established as part of Saughton Hall in the 17th century, before being bought over by the council and opened to the public between 1900 and 1905.
In its heyday, the green space rivalled even that of the Royal Botanic Garden, playing host to the best collection of roses in Scotland and drawing thousands of tourists through its gates. It is now considered one of Edinburgh’s six “premier parks”.
As well as restoration work on the walled garden, bandstand and stables, the new funding will allow for improvements to be made across the whole park, including the creation of a new viewpoint at the Water of Leith.
The money will also help towards the repairing and installing of furniture, lighting and pathways – as well as an exciting programme of events and activities aimed at a wider range of park users.
In addition, the council will be investing in improvements to the car parks, boundaries and sports pitches, with a new micro-hydro scheme and ground source heating system planned.
Green councillor Gavin Corbett said he couldn’t wait until the new proposals were up and running.
He said: “I’ve been going to Saughton Park since my kids were babies and I’m constantly amazed that it is not just as popular as the Botanic Garden in Inverleith.
“The new plans developed over the last three years are exciting – not just the new building and restoration of the much-loved old features, but the opportunity to build a real community programme for all of south and west Edinburgh.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said: “Saughton Park is a hidden gem in the south-west of the city and this funding will help restore and improve this historically important park.”