Ken O’Neill, Lothians’ newest independent candidate, attended the Craigmillar Regeneration Forum meeting last night to protest against plans to build 145 houses on Cairntows Park. The meeting, organised by the Neighbourhood Alliance on behalf of the Community Regeneration Forum, was attended by at least 80 people from a cross-section of society. A presentation by ZM Architecture failed to address local residents concerns to destroy this local greenspace. The meeting was adjourned with a unanimous call for a larger one with representatives from Edinburgh Council, PARC and the developers New City Vision attending. The area has nearby brownfield sites that are more suitable for development. The Edinburgh Council’s arms-length housing firm PARC Craigmillar owns the park and has earmarked it for development as part of its wider plans for the area.
Ken O’Neill said:
PARC describes itself as “at the heart of Craigmillar’s regeneration.” I’d say that their plans to destroy this beautiful park is more urban ‘degenaration.’ The representative from ZM Architecture, who are currently drawing up designs for New City Vision, tried to argue that the development would still have a greenspace at its heart. However, the area he was describing is smaller than a football pitch, when Cairntows Park is roughly thirteen times that. He said that the project’s design would still feel like the Park but I can’t see how it would. The proposals include replacing the park with the equivalent woodland at some unspecified location. As one of the people at meeting pointed out, you cannot teach a child to ride a bike in woodland. The plans would rip the heart out of local community, replacing a park with a boulevard lined with trees and a greenspace surrounded by four-storey buildings.
Four years ago PARC responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Best Practice in Establishing Urban Regeneration Companies in Scotland. They have obviously not realised that ignoring public feeling and build on a well used and much loved park is not best practice. Cairntows Park was identified as a potential development site in 2004 in the Craigmillar Urban Design Framework. However, the Framework said that this option should only be used once other sites, which still lie vacant, were developed. The Council and PARC have left plans to develop the plan for so long as they know it will cause them problems.
PARC are holding a Board meeting next week and I hope they hear about the strength of local feeling against their plans. They should use the meeting to withdraw plans the statutory notice they are due to lodge on Monday 25 April. The plans will also increase transport problems in the area, further damaging the local environment. People tonight were saying that PARC has never asked for their views on the proposals. I hope PARC hears loud and clear that the local community will not let them press ahead with the destruction of this precious greenspace. I plan to support them in any way I can, starting with writing to every PARC board member to explain that people want the park and not private housing. I also urge everyone to sign the Save Cairntows Park and Protect Edinburgh’s Greenspace online petition.
- The Save Cairntows Park group’s online petition calls for the protection of the greenspace and that the area “cannot afford to lose Craigmillar’s only Park to provide additional commercial properties and flats when there is an abundance of both available in the area.”
- My manifesto, Time for a Different View calls for the protection and improvement of greenfield land throughout the Lothians. I also call for a registry of brownfield land throughout the Lothians, together with potential uses.
- Edinburgh Council approved PARC Craigmillar’s planning application for the area earlier this month. The application says PARC will replace Cairntows Park with “Mixed tenure housing and flats with small urban park and commercial unit, mixed use residential and commercial units.”
- PARC Craigmillar is Edinburgh Council’s arms-length housing firm. Their website says they want to achieve a “new, revitalised town centre providing around 300,000 sq ft of space for commercial and retail development.”
- The Craigmillar Urban Design Framework, which includes plans to develop the park, describes “how the existing buildings and large vacant areas can become a new district of Edinburgh.” The plan says the proposal to develop on Cairntows Park is “contrary to the terms of the Local Plan.”