A major project to restore Edinburgh’s historic Saughton Park got underway this week with the official commencement of a year-long programme of work.

The milestone sees the culmination of five years’ effort to establish the park’s £5.2 million redevelopment, which has been made possible thanks to £3.8m of Heritage Lottery Funding.

In 1908, Saughton Park was redesigned to accommodate the Scottish National Exhibition, when more than 3.5m visitors flocked to enjoy the attractions. It is hoped that the park’s restoration will recapture the spirit of the time, refreshing some of the key features installed for the Exhibition, including the bandstand, botanic garden and winter garden.

Amongst other improvements will be the restoration of the park’s stables as a community venue and base for project partners the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (The Caley), the construction of a new café and the repair and installation of furniture, lighting and paths across the site.

In addition, an ongoing management plan will see the development of a full programme of events and activities, volunteering opportunities and work towards ensuring the park achieves Green Flag status.

On Tuesday, contractors P1 Solutions performed a ceremonial sod-cutting in the Walled Garden to commemorate the occasion, joined by council officials, parks staff and Heritage Lottery Fund representatives.

Also present were Friends of Saughton Park members, who have worked closely with the City of Edinburgh Council and other partners to raise funds and engage with the community throughout the process.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “I am delighted to see work begin on Saughton Park, which follows a great deal of planning and engagement with the community by all those involved.

“This historic park will benefit immensely from the major restoration about to commence, as will the public who use it, and I look forward to seeing the park reclaim its original splendour as a result.”

Lucy Casot, head of Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, said “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. Saughton Park, tucked away in the South West of Edinburgh, is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £64m of National Lottery funding, which over the last 20 years has played a crucial role in revitalising over 65 parks across Scotland.”

Consultation was recently carried out on new cycle routes linking the park with the city centre, which will be complemented by £500,000 recently awarded to the Saughton Park Restoration Project by Sustrans Community Links programme. Funding will enable upgrades to the park’s path network and off-road links around the neighbourhood.

The majority of the park will be closed during the construction phase, including the Balgreen entrance and car park.  The main east-west path, which is part of the Water of Leith Walkway and the John Muir Way, is also closed to allow re-surfacing and diversionary routes have been set up for pedestrians and cyclists.  In addition, the Gorgie Bridge entrance is closed until further notice to allow the construction of the new paths to the south of the park.  Further closures will be put in place throughout the construction phase.

It is anticipated that the newly restored park will be fully opened by August 2018.

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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