The City of Edinburgh Council was the first Council to sign its Concordat in December 2012. The Council supports the work of the Lothians & Fife Green Network Partnership (LFGNP) as part of its commitment to the CSGN principle of partnership working.
It also seeks to:
- Ensure the Green Network is integrated, as appropriate, into development plans, development frameworks, masterplans and design briefs.
- Promote connectivity and multifunctional use of all types of greenspace at a range of scales in both urban and rural areas.
- Identify opportunities and priority areas for Green Network enhancement to target available resources and facilitate its delivery.
Strategic Development Plan 2
Planning and Transport staff have attended workshops led by SESplan (The South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan Authority), SNH and LFGNP to identify Strategic Green Network Priorities across the region for inclusion within the next Strategic Development Plan.
Local Development Plan
In June 2014, the Council published its Second Proposed Local Development Plan, which integrates green network principles across policy topics and embeds green infrastructure within site briefs for new housing. The Second Proposed Plan indicates over 50 ha of new greenspace, comprising public parks, multi-user path connections, woodland creation and provision of new allotments. Representations to the Proposed Plan are due to be reported to February's Planning Committee.
Guidance and studies
Both the Council’s existing Local Plans and Proposed Plan are supported by The Edinburgh Design Guidance (2013), which sets out the Council’s expectations for the design of new development in Edinburgh. Following advice on consideration of context and building design, the third section of this non-statutory guidance explains how new development should incorporate green infrastructure and green networks to help deliver the 5 CSGN themes. The guidance received a 2014 Scottish Award for Quality in Planning and has already influenced changes in design quality across the City.
The Design Guidance specifically refers to surface water management and design of SUDs for amenity and biodiversity value. The Council has recently provided input to LFGNP discussions on water sensitive urban design and are in the process of preparing case studies to be pooled from across the region in order to improve the quality of implemented schemes.
The Council also hosted a joint LFGNP / Forest Research Temporary Greening of Vacant and Derelict Land seminar at City Chambers and will shortly receive a report on this topic for the City, prepared on behalf of the LFGN partners by CSGNT.
Open Space Strategy and Public Realm
The Council is in the process of updating its 2009 Open Space Audit, involving partnership working between Planning, Parks and Greenspaces and Neighbourhood Teams, with the aim of preparing a new Open Space Strategy in 2015.
The Council is working with the Causey Development Trust on a community led initiative to revitalise a local street in the South Side of the City, converting a traffic dominated piece of road into a space for people, community events, pedestrians and cyclists. The Causey Project is identified as local priority in the Council’s Public Realm Strategy 2009 and first emerged from a temporary initiative, the Tropical Island in 2007, as part of the Six Cities Design Festival. A process of design development and engagement is now underway, working towards implementation in 2015-16.
Managing Edinburgh’s award winning Parks and Greenspaces
Since 2007, Edinburgh has been using the Green Flag awards process as a way of driving up standards. In 2011, the City’s Parks and Greenspaces Team was awarded ‘Best Service Team: Parks, Ground and Horticultural Service’ at the Association for Public Sector Excellence. Edinburgh was recognised as a local authority which has successfully improved the quality of its parks and greenspaces after widening ownership to officers, elected members and communities which allowed them to readily identify and positively respond to customer needs. As well as bringing Council staff together from across a number of service areas to improve parks and greenspaces, the Parks Team also worked with many community groups and built relationships with key organisations such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Edinburgh University. This led to the sharing of horticultural knowledge and expertise, collective resourcing of environmental improvements and a multi-disciplinary approach to operational management of the various features and sites.
In August 2014, Edinburgh’s newest green space, Buttercup Farm Park, was opened on the site of the former Drum Brae Primary School.
Following Edinburgh’s success in Britain in Bloom, Edinburgh was invited to represent the UK at the prestigious Entente Florale, Europe’s largest environmental competition. In September 2014, Edinburgh was awarded gold for excellence in landscape and horticulture, environment, tourism and involvement.
In 2015, the Council’s parks and greenspaces were awarded a record 29 Green Flags, almost half of the 65 issued in Scotland for that year.
Edinburgh Living Landscape Programme
Since 2012, the Council’s Parks and Greenspace service has continued to develop the Edinburgh Living Landscape Programme in partnership with other national and city organisations. The initiative aims to improve and extend Edinburgh’s natural greenspace network, through development of an ecosystem approach to land management.
Urban Trees and Woodlands
Recent survey work carried out by Forest Research estimates that there are 638,000 trees in Edinburgh. In early 2014, the Council finalised its Trees in the City Action Plan. This is set in the context of the Edinburgh and Lothians Forestry and Woodland Strategy (2012) and explains how the Council manages trees and woodlands in its ownership. It also provides guidance to the public and presents research evidence on the environmental benefits delivered by Edinburgh’s trees.
Active Travel and Access
The Council is working with Sustrans to deliver a new walking and cycling route between Loanhead and Gilmerton. The route will extend the existing path network from Straiton Pond in Midlothian, along the former Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin branch railway, to connect to a widened pedestrian and cyclist pavement along Lasswade Road, where the speed limit will be reduced to 40mph.
The Council has recently prepared a report on the breadth of activities which are helping to support Edinburgh’s biodiversity. The Edinburgh Biodiversity Partnership, chaired by the Council, will shortly be engaging on the preparation of the Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan for 2016 and beyond and will be considering the how actions can best deliver CSGN objectives.
A particular highlight from the last three years, has been the Council’s involvement in the UK Urban Pollinators initiative. Wildflower meadows have been created in Edinburgh parks and school grounds as part of a scientific collaboration between universities, councils and wildlife trusts, researching insect pollinators in urban habitats in the UK. The meadows created are now being managed as permanent wildlife habitat following completion of the study.
The Council will also become the first local authority to become a member of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital. The Forum will enable business and policy makers to make informed decisions about their impact on the environment, to assess the financial and other benefits they obtain from Scotland natural capital and to make a concerted effort to protect it.
Natural Environment Team