Canal Visions

A major development at the east end of the canal needs to be about community not
corporations.

I am just back from Tollcross Community Centre, from a session organised by
Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative, the steering group of which I am member.

First of all, my thanks to the janitor for finding a ladder long enough to retrieve the ball from the school roof as my sons’ over-enthusiastic game ground to a temporary halt.

More substantially it was great to see such a packed room, full of people who care deeply about the area and are brim-full of ideas.

This is a major test-site, not only because of the scale – stretching from Gibson Terrace, all the way to the canal end – but also as an opportunity to strike out on a more inclusive path for master-planning.

Over the last fifteen years the canal has shifted from being an embarassing eyesore to a real asset for the city. It is crucial that this investment and careful development is not thrown away on a glass ‘n’ concrete shell that simply will not stand the test of time. We only have to look at the Springside buildings just across Fountainbridge, standing empty for years now, as an object lesson in getting development wrong.

The fact that the council’s own company EDI is leading on the development of the site should, on the face of it, offer new opportunities for the community to be involved in shaping what the area looks and feels like. But the test will be how much EDI listens to and absorbs the exciting community ideas which have already emerged.