As the video clip above shows, it was almost five years ago that Greener Leith ran the Leith Links Ask consultation, which asked people which improvements they would most like to see happen in the park.
The results, based on the views of 550 local folk, have helped to guide investment decisions in the park ever since, with improved tennis facilities coming in as one of the top ten things that people wanted to see in the park.
In that intervening time, council officers have been working hard to put a funding package together to make renewed tennis courts a reality. And by all accounts it’s not been easy, so today’s announcement on Twitter from Leith Councillor Adam McVey that the Scottish Government is to put up £80,000 to wards the cost, is most welcome.
Cllr Mcvey said: “The Leith Links Tennis courts are receiving the final £80,000 needed to allow the project to go ahead from the Scottish Government.
“The project has to date been funded from sources, including Edinburgh Council, but issues with some funding applications has delayed progress. A condition of the new funding is that building starts by this July meaning work will begin in a matter of weeks.
“Thanks to the Scottish Government, we can now get on and build the long awaited replacement tennis courts in Leith’s biggest park, improving access to tennis and sport in general for Leithers.”
The new tennis courts will not be built on the site of the old tennis courts, which incidentally first opened nearly 99 years ago. Instead, they will be built on the site of the public lawn bowls area. One of the four bowls areas is likely to be retained, as there is still a small, but committed group of folk who use it.
The £80,000 for the Leith Links tennis courts forms part of a wider £1.2 million investment from the Scottish Government in sports and leisure facilities across the country.
— Adam McVey (@adamrmcvey) April 16, 2013
As for the former tennis court area, there is a plan to convert it into allotments, or some other form of community food growing space.
At this stage we’re not sure whether this plan is likely to go ahead this year.
However, given that the site of the old tennis courts remains an eyesore and a focus for anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood Greener Leith volunteers on the Leith Links steering group will continue to press for action on that site too.
Similarly, we have heard no confirmed start date for another important upgrade to the park – the play facilities – although the council has previously confirmed plans to spend a further £400,000 on upgrading the play facilities on Leith Links.
This upgrade is particularly important as it was the top priority local folk identified in the Leith Links Ask five years ago, and it has been identified as a top priority in other consultation work with local parents undertaken by Dr Bell’s Cafe.
News of the investment in the tennis courts follows £50,000 worth of path improvements to the paths in the park – workers are on site in the East Links this week – and the construction of the path link to Portobello.
And dare we say it – our direct contribution to improving the Links – the Leith Links Children’s Orchard is looking pretty good too this spring.
Assuming that the play facilities are upgraded by 2014 as previously pledged- it seems that Leith Links, as one of Edinburgh’s premier parks is at long last getting some of the attention it deserves.