The Lord Provost, Cllr Frank Ross cut the ribbon to launch the long-awaited Roseburn Play park on 7th Dec 2018. Costing £90,000 and almost 10 years in development, the playpark had been held up by the flood defence works. The old playpark catering for a small age range – kids up to 6 – was worn out and was cold in the shadow of Murrayfield stadium. And the flood defences left it isolated and cut off from the rest of the Park. The new one is at the east entrance of the Park in an open sunny spot, has much more equipment and caters for children up to age 12.
It’s taken a long time and almost didn’t happen. In 2016, the then convener of the Council Environmental Committee, who oversaw the £23M Flood Prevention scheme at Roseburn, Cllr Leslie Hinds, fought to ensure that Roseburn did not lose out in the face of the austerity cuts that were crippling the Council. The West Edinburgh Environmental Sub-Committee stepped in to ensure the playpark was built. Council staff David Sinclair (local Environment Manager) and Ritchie Fraser (Parks officer) worked with Sub-Committee Convener, Cllr Robert Aldridge after the Friends of Roseburn Park (FoRP) made a successful plea for funding to the Sub-Committee in January 2016, to ensure the project went ahead. Council playpark design staff James Galloway and Alan Grevers then worked with Friends of Roseburn Park who brought in the schoolchildren at Roseburn Primary School to help shape the design.
Now, two years on, the work of many has come to fruition and the Friends of Roseburn Park extended a warm wintery welcome to children and their parents to try out the swings and roundabouts on a cold Friday afternoon at 2.30pm. The police were there to stamp bikes with ID badges to help trace them if they get nicked; there were prizes for the quiz asking which bits of the design were from the local kids. MW Groundworks Ltd of West Calder have been working on site for over two months on the build and were pleased with the finished product.
The playpark includes a UniMini Apista climbing frame for kids to age 6, a sand pit, a play mound, a tunnel, a Uniplay Ipex climber for older children, cradle swings for toddlers, a basket swing for tweenies, normal swings, a picnic table, a tunnel, a balance beam, stepping logs, a cone net rotating climber, play boulders* and a stilt walk – all surrounded by a new beech hedge. Residents organised by FoRP have been out planting 5,000 bulbs by the playpark and everywhere else and refreshing the nearby planters to help make the park look beautiful come the spring. The school’s new Head Teacher, Natalie Borrowman, has worked with FoRP and the contractor to get local children involved, the better to create a sense of ownership by the area’s young people, who must help care for the new playpark in the future.
FoRP Chairperson Pete Gregson said “Thanks to the Council, children from Roseburn, Riversdale and Murrayfield now have a new place to go and have fun, get fit and make new friends. This is a key element in helping the area recover from the flood prevention work. It will bring new faces to the park over the years to come. And their parents will have somewhere new to gossip. The Council and the West Neighbourhood Partnership have worked hard with everybody to make this project work. We are truly delighted.”
The children who got the quiz answers right were Lucy Booth, who observed the design was changed to add the tunnel; Lucy has won a £10 curry from Delta, the best Indian takeaway in town.
The other big winner was Max Kevios who noted the “birly Thing” aka the cone net rotating climber, was added after various school suggestions; Max won a box game.
.*The Play Boulders were left out due to financial pressures; FoRP are exploring whether they might supply these themselves
The Evening News of 10th December carried this story:
Here are more photos:
Here is the promotional flyer:
Our next event will be the Carol Singing and Film Screening on Wed 19th Dec 6.30-8.30pm – meet at the Armoury in the middle of the park.
Please help local student Luke out by completing this survey on noise pollution in the area “Community Noise Survey Murrayfield, Roseburn, Balgreen & Corstorphine.”
The research he is conducting is part of his postgraduate thesis in Environmental Health.
Specifically, he is looking at noise from Murrayfield stadium. There is essentially 2 parts to it. The first is to physically measure noise from the stadium to see if it meets the required licensing conditions and legal requirements. This also includes measuring noise from sources associated with the stadium which is not subject to specific regulation e.g. crowds going to the stadium.
The second part is to see how this noise actually affects the local residential population. The perception and effects of noise are affected by individual and situational factors. This is what he is measuring via the survey.
The results will be available next year
The notes for the meeting are here
What to do with the toilet block?
Our survey of local preferences, over a 1-month period and closing on the 16th Sept, was advertised widely – on 200 flyers in shops, on the toilet block itself, at our public events to around 200 people, on Facebook and on our website. It drew 74 responses.
83% were in favour of leasing it commercially as a cafe with toilet attached. 15% said to demolish it.
We believe that this high level of support indicates we should work with the Council to market this dilapidated property.
Given the enormous challenges and expense of refurbishment, with a building at permanent risk of future flooding, we propose the Council leases it on terms akin to those that were originally offered to FoRP, at a peppercorn rent of £1 a year for 25 years, with the permission to sub-let.
This proposal will require Council Committee approval, but we would like to get the ball rolling on this, so are discussing the way forward with the Estates team.
Another great bake-off! Thanks so much to all the brilliant volunteers and bakers. We made £160 profit today; maybe we only got 100 folk instead of the usual 200 and 9 cakes instead of the 30 we got last time because the school had a bake-off on Friday to say goodbye to the Head.. But the Friends made some lovely new friends!
We were helped by the FoRP Committee, Patricia Simpson, Laura Howarth, Declan Egar, Jane Stevenson, Lynne Schyma and James Kinnear, Scott Douglas, Mary McHugh, George Randall and PC Sam Davison (+ colleague) who was doing free Bike ID stamps. And Michelle from Fallen Tree Workshop in Perth who did hot drinks. Roseburn Primary School, Murrayfield DAFs and Murrayfield Wanderers helped by loaning us kit. Judges were Nic from Buna and Brendan from Fishers. Ritchie Fraser from Edinburgh Council helped us get the grass white-lined for races.
Prizes for cakes and the raffle came from Roseburn traders: House of Hound, Thallon Soullis, Art et Facts, Roseburn Café, Simon Smith Collectibles, Roseburn Bar, Brendan Haddock, Roseburn Shoe Repairs, Tescos, Eat’n’Joy, Buna, Delta Takeaway, Cafe Colpamia, Right Medicine, Ice Rink; Murrayfield Indoor Bowling, Vigo’s
Do we ask the Council to lease it commercially and get it as a café (with a toilet for public use), or do we ask them to demolish it? Voting closed on the 16th Sept. There were 74 responses; 83% in favour of a commercial let and 15% in favour of demolition. We have passed this info onto the Council.
The toilet block is a headache. We’ve been working on plans for this for 6 years now. Our members survey of 2016 (see the results here) showed that converting it to a café was clearly the most popular of all the improvements proposed, scoring 89% in favour. We then secured agreement from the Council that we could lease it at a peppercorn rent and then sub-let it to a commercial operator – we had no interest in running the café ourselves. We were funded to get planning permission, plans dawn up and prices in. There were but two agencies who were even prepared to consider funding the work through landfill tax monies, but competition was huge. The Lottery was out, because we wanted to sublet the building. We discovered that it would be very hard to raise the £70,000 we’d need. The 9 builders who indicated an interest in bidding – most met with our architect, then chose not to give us quotes. After a year of chasing. We had but 2 quotes, but couldn’t even submit an application until we got the 3rd. Prices were £62,000 and £77,000 – double what we’d originally estimated.
Needless to say, throughout this period the toilet block has continued to fall into greater disrepair, with harling falling off, timber rotting (there is a water leak inside) and trees growing out of the roof.
FoRP were reaching the stage of believing they would have to give up, when a resident approached us, indicating he would be interested in taking on the project. He and his partner indicated they would put in some capital and get a bank loan for the rest. We are keen for him (or another businessperson) to take over the toilet block and make it into a café.
We believe there is so much risk involved in the building that builders and funders are really not that interested. The building is in such poor condition that builders are unable to see exactly the condition of the walls and roof without carrying out the work; giving a fixed price in such circumstances is clearly a risk most builders were unwilling to take. The very high competition for scarce landfill tax monies mean that an application of this nature stands a low chance of success, since most grants go to play facilities and amenities currently in use (the toilet block is in a flood plain, also).
We therefore felt it necessary to draw this project to a close and notified the Council we have withdrawn our interest in leasing the property. We’d now like to persuade the Council to lease it commercially on a 25 -year lease at a low rent.
There are examples of disused Council buildings on park land that had been refurbished by commercial operators. The Gardeners Cottage café in London Road Gardens is a good example of what we aspire to. The Lodge Coffee House in Braid Park is another. The Council, due to austerity cuts, has no money to refurbish the building and that situation will continue for the next few years, at least. We doubt we shall ever see them ploughing £70,000 into it.
We asked Andy Wightman, Lothian MSP and noted authority on land ownership who has championed the protection of public land, what he thought of our proposal. His comment was “I don’t have strong views – it’s up to local community & council. Seems a reasonable proposition to me.” Local Councillors Frank Ross and Gillian Gloyer are in favour too. Fields in Trust had no problem with a commercial let.
We shall now work with the Council to have it let commercially, on a peppercorn rent with a long lease and the possibility to sublet, similar to the terms FoRP were offered.
After much waiting, we have received the following from the City Council: