IT’S been dubbed a ‘battle of the generations’ pitting care of the elderly against the needs of the young.
A two-acre patch of grass land used as a playground for nearly 30 years is now at the centre of a major tug-of-war with a care provider seeking to build a 72-bed nursing home on the plot.
Residents claim the loss of the beloved play area at South Beechwood – a cul-de-sac off Corstorphine Road – would deprive dozens of children their favourite spot for impromptu football matches and games of hide and seek.
But Care UK insists the site is “little used” and “ideally located for a care home”.
The wrangle comes just days after a study showed one-in-seven Scottish five-year-olds were clinically obese and less than a year after a survey which found children are active less than 20 minutes per day.
Play experts today backed the children’s campaign to retain the disputed grounds and said the needs of youngsters were often overlooked as adults cash in on money-spinning developments.
Parent Alastair Shearer, whose own children regularly exercise on the plot, said: “For 28 years at the end of this sleepy estate this has been an amenity for all the kids that have grown up here.
“Suddenly a care home that is totally out of scale and out of context for the area is being considered that is going to hugely impact on the kids.
“If it is granted there will be nine care homes in the space of a half-mile radius.”
Residents also have safety concerns about fleets of lorries delivering building materials to the development.
Caitlin Kiddie, nine, said it was “sad and unfair” that local children might lose their favourite play spot.
She said: “I almost cried when I heard they want to build on the land. It is a great area for the children – we play lots of fun things like hide and seek, football and frisbee and now we won’t have anywhere to go to have fun. I have even seen babies learn to walk on the grassy area as it is such a safe place.”
But a spokesman for Care UK said: “It is fair to say that some concerns have been raised at the prospect of development, particularly in respect to traffic and safety issues. However, we are confident from our various assessments and practical experience that these concerns are not justified.”
And he added: “We do appreciate that some people do not welcome the prospect of development close to them, and we are doing as much as possible to deal with any concerns. It is important that a city such as Edinburgh can meet the needs of its ageing population in accessible and pleasant environments. We believe that South Beechwood is ideally suited in this regard.”
But Marguerite Hunter Blair, chief executive of Play Scotland, said she would feel “very aggrieved” if the play park were to be lost.
“The problem is children don’t get the priority they deserve and many planning decisions seem designed to remove them from outdoor space altogether at a time when evidence of the benefits of play to children is overwhelming.”