Coalie Park latest – Phase 1 new surfaces go down, Phase 2 gets planning permission

Exciting times at the Leith end of the Walkway

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This week Trust Manager Helen had an exciting site visit to the Coalie Park Improvement Project. The new surfacing and upgraded existing path work is almost complete. The resin bonded gravel features a ‘silver thread’ river map, which looks really good and will encourage walkers along the riverside where they will find new benches and a fabulous amphitheatre style riverside steps.

There is a new tarmac path through the former car park area which is now the National Cycle Route 75 up onto Coburg St. We have also planted a new hedgerow and three new oak trees, and in coming weeks a meadow will be sowed and ‘coastal’ themed planters installed.

We are hopeful that the contractors will be able to finish the final element of the projects in the coming week. We hope to have a formal opening ceremony in May.

We have also just heard that Phase 2 has just received planning permission. This exciting phase all happens upstream of Great Junction St Bridge and involves improving the existing brick structures. Read on for all the details – we are also still seeking funding for this element.

Project Area A: The Story of Water Walls

This area of the project will focus on creating a creative & safe destination at the west end of Coalie Park.

This area was designed in the 1980’s around a main CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) which is due for upgrading works by Scottish Water in 2030, so a radical transformation is not proposed at this time. The plan is to create quality street art on the brick walls; replace the benches; remove invasive species and repair and upgrade the path surface.

The idea is to develop a design for a community mural to tell ‘the story of water’ by direct painting. The detail, design and story-telling brief will be fully developed through an engagement process involving the local community. A commissioned artist will deliver a series of workshops and produce a creative collaborative design.

Project Area B: Largo Place Art Connection and seating

Largo Place steps is a vital link to the Walkway and Coalie Park for local residents. This is a place where an intervention in the form of upgraded seating and art work could make a huge difference to the ‘feel’ and usage of the site.

The intervention would focus at the point where the steps from Largo Place transect the Coalie Park walk / cycleway, and could highlight and interpret the WW2 bomb, the damage it created and the impact on local townscape and heritage. A public art project, building on the existing infrastructure, creating multi-level seating, space which may inspire pop-up outdoor performances.

We plan to install new benches to replace the existing ones; in collaboration with Citadel Youth Centre. We hope to renovate former railway benches, painting with thematic colours / logos to tie in with artists graphics / installations.

Project Area C: THE DOCK – Skate spot, meeting place and community garden space

This area is dominated by a redundant brick structure which was once built as a viewing platform. The removal of this structure would be costly, and instead there is an opportunity to incorporate it into a newly purposed space – to create growing areas, to terrace with planters, and to wrap new concrete skate / teen hang out seating onto and around the structure.

A space which combines two very different uses, differing intensity of activity, and different users of the space ultimately makes for a safer environment, where these different users are given space and who overlap. Social sustainability comes from layering up these uses and ensuring many eyes on the ground.

Plans include:

  1. Concrete formwork built onto and around the existing brick structure. The skate structures / paths would be constructed as a design and build partnership with The Edinburgh Wheels Project CIC, who provide opportunities for unemployed youths to build paths and plazas. They are a community interest company focused on providing NEET’S (not in employment or education) young people with employment opportunities into construction. 18-25 year old locals will engage with skilled workmen who will provide training for work programs with the outcome of candidates being tool, interview and site ready.
  2. Social Space – a colourful, youth friendly and safe inclusive space will be created. A stop off point to relax and embrace the beauty of The Water of Leith’s and connect with friends and the community. Using the natural elements of the location this dynamic site-specific sculpture garden aims to be visually attractive through mosaic, sculpture and plantlife. The mosaic wavewalls are Antoni Gaudi inspired. Commissioned artist Campbell Barclay has engaged with The Citadel Youth Centre in and will continue to take input from local people to establish bespoke designed panels. The concept and ideas behind the community mosaic benches include using found local materials and depicting stories of Leith’s industrial history. Reused concrete and cobbles will be used to create structure and mosaic tiles inserted whilst wet to create finished design effect. Weather durable. Promotes positive attitude. Sense of involvement for local young people.
  3. Planted areas created by community, local project partners, and WoLCT volunteers. Species choices could focus on plants appropriate for use in rainwater planters, with interpretive signage, giving people ideas for planting for climate resilience and adding biodiversity to urban landscapes. Raised brick retaining planters, with a reservoir base, to reduce need for watering while attenuating rainwater runoff from the upper hard surfaced area as a sustainable urban drainage strategy. Planting with the community will help to make the space feel safe and cared for.

Design ideas for the social space element of the project have been brought together by Edinburgh Wheels and worked on by young people of Leith and Citadel Youth Centre.

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