To raise awareness of some of the key themes of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy, we are holding a series of lunchtime training sessions for staff.
Professor Catharine Ward Thompson from the University of Edinburgh gave us a great overview of her research into why greenspace is good for us.
Catharine is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University and directs OPENspace – the research centre for inclusive access to outdoor environments. The University is also one of the Council’s key partners for Edinburgh Living Landscape.
Catharine’s research has featured in the Green Health project for the Scottish Government, which looked at links between green space and stress in deprived urban populations. More recently Mobility, Mood and Place, focused on outdoor access and older people’s quality of life.
As a “tourist” for a year in Edinburgh (when I’m not working as a Trainee Planner with the Council!), I endeavour to make the most of everything that the City has to offer. A couple of weeks ago, one Sunday, I spontaneously decided to walk up to Arthur’s Seat. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, I could not have picked a better day. The views from the top of the ancient volcano were utterly mesmerising; a real sense of escapism.
I’m sure that for most of us, our parks and green spaces are an important aspect of our day-to-day living. Visually attractive places which help improve our physical and mental health; open spaces really are a key factor in shaping our quality of life.
However, according to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the future of parks may not be so bright, with recent issues arising such as revenue budget cuts and declining maintenance in some cases. In order to cope with such challenges and to improve the efficiency of park management, the city adopted the Edinburgh Living Landscape programme in 2012.
Over the last 5 years, 15 of the city’s largest parks have substantially improved and 22 play areas have been upgraded. The success of Edinburgh’s parks can be attributed to the involvement of Friends and other community groups, as well as the Council.
The Council’s Open Space Strategy (2010) is currently shortlisted for a Scottish Award for Quality in Planning because of its commitment to ensuring the continued success, improvement and upgrading of Edinburgh’s parks and public spaces.
In order to make sure that the next Open Space Strategy helps the city meet its future green space needs, we need your help. It is you, the people of Edinburgh, who use and appreciate these parks and green spaces and make them a successful, cohesive, leisure environment.
We are therefore inviting you to comment on Edinburgh’s draft Open Space Strategy, which sets out Edinburgh’s open space needs from now until 2021.
For existing green spaces there are opportunities that exist to turn under-used green spaces into community gardens and wildlife areas and to enhance the city’s historic cemeteries and burial grounds.
As the city grows, the key challenges will be securing new parks and green networks for future generations. This will require a co-operative design approach involving Planners, Architects, Landscape Architects, Ecologists and place-making focused community engagement.
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to have your say on the draft Strategy by taking part in the short online survey. These open spaces are your open spaces, so come on and get involved.