Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT) have enlisted the help of local school children to help officially open the new active travel route through Little France Park. The local children came from the nearby Castleview primary school who have been involved with a bikability scheme and a junior ranger programme to help develop the park. The children will be using the new active travel route as they walk and cycle to school.

Active routes to school

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 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 more information please contact: Richard Darke, Fundraising and Communications Manager, Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust