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Heriot-Watt University, on the edge of Edinburgh, has become the first Scottish university to receive a Green Flag Award. The Green Flag is the national standard for parks and gardens, and rewards those which meet the highest standards.  The judges were satisfied that Heriot Watt University Estates were carrying out the best possible management of public access landscape.

The university’s campus has developed around the lost gardens of Riccarton House, a stately home that had fallen into disrepair. By the mid-1950s it had to be demolished and the gardens gradually disappeared under weeds and undergrowth. Despite being overgrown and neglected, the historic garden layout, dating back to 1755, was recognised as having great conservation value.   Historic Scotland considers it to be a fine example of a nineteenth century formal garden.

In 1968, Midlothian Council gave the site to Heriot-Watt. Landscape Architects Weddle Landscape Design were appointed and have been advising the university on landscape management and since then the site has been transformed into a picturesque parkland campus. The site now accommodates 9000 students, plus staff, conference delegates and other visitors, as well as wildlife habitats. It is also free to visit for the public.

In 1969, the university set up a Site Conservation Committee to safeguard all the green spaces on the campus. After over 40 years their far sighted vision and the work of the Landscape Team have been recognised by the Green Flag Award.

For further information on Green Flag awards within CSGN, you can learn about how City of Edinburgh Council is using the Green Flag Award scheme to drive up the standards of their parks in our Case Study.