Public Parks or Luxury Homes?

Ask most people whether they would prefer more public space or a few millionaire homes and you’ll get a clear answer.

Not from City of Edinburgh Council though.  The Council has plans to sell off the old depot site within Inverleith Park for ‘high quality residential use’ and has presented outline proposals for the construction of nine luxury houses expected to cost upwards of 1 million pounds.

Despite commitments made over many years to engage meaningfully with communities, no consultation on the matter was undertaken until after the decision to sell the site had been taken and the general development plans had been drawn up. Equally worrying is the fact that the site also went from being considered an integral part of the park (from its origins in 1889 and also in the Inverleith Conservation Area Review and 2006 Edinburgh Local Plan) to being deemed an urban area fit for development.

If the Council had consulted properly, it would have found that the majority of people want the park as a whole to be retained for public use for the common good of the community. It would have heard the alternative uses people have in mind (including café and toilet facilities, allotments, a community orchard and rented small business units) and could have come up with a self-sustaining concept enjoying general support.

Surely, one of the Council’s first responsibilities is to act as the guardian of our publicly owned land and to preserve it for future generations. It should not be constantly looking at selling off the city’s assets, but instead raise sufficient revenue, prioritise expenditure, and ensure that everything it does genuinely benefits its citizens.

Or is that too much to ask?