Members of Greener Leith attended a planning meeting at St Mary’s Primary School last week, to find out more about the design proposals for the Leith Links Seaward Extension. Members of the Planning Department as well as Landscape Architects, the Paul Hogart Company, were on hand to explain the design proposals. Sadly, there were only about 15 members of the public and 2 councillors present.
A number of people we spoke to felt that the meeting was poorly attended because the council did not promote the meeting well enough. Whilst the council did contact us with details of the meeting which we then promoted on this site, it is perhaps telling that the city of Edinburgh council neglected to inform the Leith Links Allotment Site Rep of the meeting. Given the impact the proposals will have on the allotments, we’re in no doubt that some of the allotment holders would have liked to have attended this meeting.
At the meeting, a key issue that emerged was the subject of the total amount of green space in the Leith Docks Regeneration Plans. It seemed that people in the audience felt that it was hard to judge the value of the Leith Docks Design Framework without more information on the proposed designs and uses of other open spaces in Leith Docks.
One fact that we did glean from the officials was that the only new playing fields that are proposed in the whole Leith Docks redevelopment proposals will be the ones in the Leith Links Seaward Extension. Furthermore, these playing fields will also be required for use by the new secondary school planned for the development. No guarantees were given over the management arrangements for the new proposed playing fields, so there is a chance that these pitches could be fenced off from the public and only available to the public for restricted use outside school hours. Given the shortage of free public sports facilities in the docks development this is a situation that appeared unacceptable to Greener Leith volunteers and many of the others in the room.
However, Greener Leith volunteers felt that many of the points we raised were taken seriously by both the landscape architects and the planners, in particular the points we made about ‘designing out’ anti-social behavior. We hope now that the planning committee will also heed them, and ensure that the design proposals are reviewed accordingly.
Interestingly, the proposals do hold out some hope for improvements to the cycle path links to the east of Leith Links. The construction of a new fire station that will border the South East end of the extension, could see the replacement of the steps up to the cycle path with a ramp into the first stage of the extension. As Greener Leith has previously campaigned for ramp access to this path, this is a component of the proposal we are particularly keen to see completed.
Much of this development will not take place for another 10-15 years, and the area on which this park is to be built is currently industrial land. However, it is important to raise any concerns you may have now about the design, as you may not get another chance!