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Opening of Little France Park

Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT) enlisted the help of local school children to help officially open the new active travel route through Little France Park.

The local children will be coming from the nearby Castleview primary school which is a school ELGT have been working with over the last couple of years as part of a community engagement project in the area. The children have been involved with a bikability scheme and a junior ranger programme that ELGT have been delivering with the school. The children will be using the new active travel route as they walk and cycle from the school to the event. They will then take part in a physical activity and bulb planting. The event enables the local children to learn new skills and for them to feel the benefits of having an active lifestyle. It also encourages them to use and to get involved with making improvements to the park and gain a sense of ownership to look after it for future generations.

The Little France Green active travel route and park project which is valued at over £1.4m has been delivered by the Edinburgh & Lothians Green Trust on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council and was primarily funded by Transport Scotland through Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links programme, with matched funding provided by a range of partners including the City of Edinbrugh Council and Scottish Enterprise.

The new 2.983km route formalises existing paths in order to link with the new and proposed housing developments in the south east of the city and beyond to the city centre and Craigmillar. It will enable a core cycling and walking route, linking the new neighbourhoods as they come on stream to existing residential and employment areas as well as the new Shawfair railway station on the Borders rail line.

The Little France park project has involved various partners including City of Edinburgh (parks and greenspaces, planning and economic development), PARC Craigmillar (EDI Group), NHS Lothian, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Enterprise, University of Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh and the Forestry Commission for Scotland.

The parkland is a key piece of green infrastructure for the city and region and a crucial regeneration tool linking local communities – including Craigmillar, Greendykes and Niddrie to employment opportunities. This project will deliver links to the parkland to encourage the use of the area for informal sports and events and formalising existing paths in order to link with housing developments, a proposed new town centre in Craigmillar, employment prospects at the Royal Infirmary and the Edinburgh BioQuarter, medical facilities and the existing school.  The parkland will also connect and realign disjointed existing paths. This is a great opportunity to create a new landscape setting for the city providing opportunities for outdoor recreation which brings social and health benefits to this area. The parkland will be an important part of the green network, providing a focus for local and sub-regional leisure and amenity, improved connectivity and enhanced biodiversity.

The local community have already taken part in planting over 7000 new trees in Little France Park for woodland creation which involved 239 volunteers. Meadow creation has been planned in the grassland areas which involves bringing in the local community and schools as in part of the Edinburgh Living Landscape project.

The park development enables the engagement work with the local community that has been delivered by ELGT in the nearby greenspaces to be expanded. This includes the community engagement project in the nearby Craigmillar Castle park has shown what social benefits are by bringing the local community together through an inclusive programme of outdoor activities. The community engagement project has so far delivered 171 community engagement events which involved a total of 4393 people. Many of the events have been oversubscribed which indicates the demand and a need to provide greenspaces that enable regular programmes of outdoor activity to take place in the area.

This project is an excellent example of where development of an ambitious active travel route can achieve a whole range of outcomes, in the area of transport connectivity, public health, environmental improvement and in providing links between areas of social disadvantage and opportunities for employment.

For further information about the project, see the linked case study, featured on the Central Scotland Green Network website – details under ‘Little France: Creating Connections’.   http://www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/campaigns/green-active-travel/green-active-travel-2

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley McInnes,said: “This is a fantastic development for this rapidly evolving part of the city, which will not only encourage active travel but will open up a whole new area of parkland for local people. As the project progresses I look forward to more and more people enjoying the natural surroundings, and it’s great to see young park users getting involved already.

Charlie Cumming, Edinburgh & Lothian’s Greenspace Trust, Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted to have delivered a new active travel route through this new park thanks to funding from Sustrans, The City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Enterprise and NHS Lothian. The new route will improve the access for the local community with the new park and helps link up with the surrounding areas for future generations. This exciting new path which has created a new landscape setting for the city providing opportunities for outdoor recreation which brings social and health benefits to this area. The parkland improvements will be an important part of the green network, providing a focus for local and sub-regional leisure and amenity, improved connectivity and enhanced biodiversity.”

Grace Martin, Deputy Director, Sustrans Scotland, said: “ We are very pleased to have been able to support Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust in creating the new route in Little France Park. The hard work of the Trust means that thousands of local residents now have green, off-road walking and cycling routes to work, their homes or local amenities.

“Greenspaces and routes such as these are a great example of how local communities can benefit from the funding available through our Community Links scheme. I would invite any group interested in finding out how we can support them to create new greenways or walking and cycling routes to get in touch with our team

Dr Alan Lowdon, Interim Programme Director, Edinburgh BioQuarter, said: “On behalf of Edinburgh BioQuarter’s partners we are delighted to have supported the creation of this new active travel route, encouraging more people who work or visit the campus to travel by bike or foot and to enhance the general enjoyment of Little France Park”. As a leading location for healthcare delivery we are committed to improving wellbeing. Future plans for Edinburgh BioQuarter include improved cycleways and footpaths around and through the site, promoting sustainable travel and further increasing the opportunities for people to be active.”