Today the Save Inverleith Park campaign presented a petition containing over 8,500 signatures to the City of Edinburgh Council. It organised a well-attended protest outside City Chambers and made a very clear and impassioned plea to a meeting of the full council calling for the abandonment of plans to develop a three-acre section of the park for housing.
Those of us involved in the campaign want to prevent the sale of the land into private hands, have it reinstated as open space to remove any future threat of development, and look into ways of developing it for the benefit of the community using external sources of government funding which are already available for exactly such projects.
At present this is entirely at odds with the plans of the City Council who remain determined to sell off the site, cover the area over with luxury dwellings, and take the land out of public ownership for ever to the detriment of local community and the people of Edinburgh as a whole.
In spite of unanimous opposition to the plans, there appears to be a drive by the City Economic Development Department to sell off the land come what may, and there is strong evidence to suggest that the area of the park in question was re-zoned specifically with a view to make it available development, perversely by invoking the very planning advice which was intended to protect such open spaces. Much has been made of general economic arguments and the massive shortfall in the Council budget. No one is denying the need for a thriving economy, jobs and investment, but there is no support whatsoever for the plans because people realise that the park is a social asset and not merely a sellable ‘prime piece of city centre real estate’ as it has been described by one senior Council official
And the issue here is not just Inverleith Park. The precedent that the sale of part of the park would set could set off a series of further sales of parts of other parks and open spaces elsewhere in the city. And that is why it is so important that this battle be won.