Plan for park on wasteland near Western Harbour

Western Harbour is to benefit from more green space
Western Harbour is to benefit from more green space
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A SLICE of industrial wasteland is being transformed into community parkland in a bid to kickstart a push for more gap sites to become green spaces.

The former school site on Windrush Drive near Western Harbour in Leith will be turned into a green space next month thanks to about £40,000 of investment.

Top soil and seeds will be imported to the derelict two-hectare site referred to as “the wastelands”, with trees to be planted on the land. Park benches, community gardens, football pitches and designated wildlife areas are proposals from residents all being considered for the location.

The majority of the project is being funded by a Central Scotland Green Network grant.

The greening initiative has been made possible by Forth Ports giving the lease to the Port of Leith Housing Association, which will take on maintenance costs.

Leith Councillor Adam McVey, who has helped spearhead the project, said: “There are a huge number of benefits from a project like this. The ambition is that this becomes a community space which raises spirits at Western Harbour and encourages future development on other gap sites.

“Western Harbour has the potential to supply a large number of desperately needed houses on brownfield land, which can soak up some of Edinburgh’s housing demand and help protect more sections of Edinburgh’s green belt from future development.”

Forth Ports – the owner of the Leith docks – announced plans in 2002 to carry out a £600m redevelopment transforming the disused Western Harbour area between Granton and Leith into a residential and business quarter.

Under the proposal, 3000 apartments, more than 500,000sq ft of office space, a major cultural building and a park larger than Princes Street Gardens were planned.

A quayside half-a-mile long and 60,000sqft of retail space was also due to be built, but the plans have stalled badly in the face of tough economic conditions.

The poor housing market, the shelving of the Leith section of the trams scheme and Forth Ports’ plan to focus on industrial activity have all been cited as factors.

Cllr McVey said of the green space: “This is only phase one of fulfilling Western Harbour’s potential as Edinburgh’s northern city floating on the water. There’s still a huge amount of work to do to get other gap sites greened, to get the new park built and to get the rest of the development itself built. The hope is that a greening project might be the catalyst needed to bring that development closer to reality.”

Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust fundraising manager Liz Stewart said it was a great opportunity to make a parcel of under-used land attractive. She said: “What we’re hoping to be doing is import some top soil, get some grass seeding, put some trees in and make it greener and hopefully a bit more pleasant for the people living and working nearby.”

Edinburgh City Council and Scottish charity the Mushroom Trust are also expected to contribute funds to the green space initiative.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of Port of Leith Housing Association, said: “Projects like this have the potential to make a real difference to how people feel about the area they live in.”