Victory for Inverleith campaigners

Nigel Bagshaw and Cllr Lesley Hinds
Nigel Bagshaw and Cllr Lesley Hinds
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A CAMPAIGN to block the sale of a council depot on the edge of Inverleith Park has secured an unexpected victory after city leaders announced plans to create allotments and other “community uses” on the site.

The Save Inverleith Park campaign, which was set up to fight plans to sell off the depot to make way for a luxury housing development overlooking one of Edinburgh’s prime public parks, secured more than 8000 signatures.

That forced councillors to reject proposals by council officials to continue to look at the possible sale of the site.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie lodged a last-minute motion calling a halt to the sell-off in favour of community uses before a council meeting that looked at the future of the depot – and won the backing of councillors.

He believes that creating allotments should be a priority in order to try to reduce the list of 2367 people who are waiting for an allotment in Edinburgh. However, officials will also be asked to look at other uses, including a cafe and public toilets, that could work alongside the allotments. Cllr Cardownie said: “It was never the intention of this administration to sell off the land; council officials did. We made it clear today that they are not to look at that.

“The community can now be assured that the land will be retained in public ownership, and we will work hard in line with them to see what best use we can put this land to.

“We believe one of the potential uses is allotment use because we have to reduce that [waiting] list of applications and, in harder times, people do want to grow their own fruit and vegetables.”

The decision came at a meeting of the policy and strategy committee in the City Chambers, following a final plea from campaigners to call a halt to the sell-off.

Councillors on the city’s planning committee have also been asked to consider redesignating the site as “open space”, instead of its current designation as “urban space”.

Tony Cook, convener of the Friends of Inverleith Park group, said: “To develop it into allotments and rezone it would be absolutely fantastic and that is really what we are looking for.”

Inverleith councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I welcome the decision of the policy and strategy committee to not sell off the Inverleith Park depot and I congratulate the Save Inverleith Park campaign as, because of their work, they have managed to persuade all parties in the council not to sell off the depot.”