Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh's New Town to get £90,000 allotments revamp

New Town area which will be turned into allotments
Image caption The council plans to turn the cellars into storage space for tools

An overgrown corner of Edinburgh's New Town is set to be transformed into community allotments and gardens.

A row of Georgian tenements on MacKenzie Place was demolished in 1967 leaving behind a line of bricked-up cellars.

The site has since deteriorated due to fallen trees and crumbling walls.

Now, Edinburgh City Council and Edinburgh World Heritage are to turn the waste land into community allotments and gardens.

It follows a special strategy, announced recently by the council, as the waiting list for the allotments has grown "significantly" over the past decade.

In 1998, about 400 people were on the waiting list for an allotment but the number increased to more than 2000 in 2010.

Image caption MacKenzie Place was demolished in 1967

There will be 21 new allotments built at MacKenzie Place with half being offered to local people and the rest given to gardeners on the council's waiting list.

The council plans to use a £40,000 grant from Edinburgh World Heritage to turn the cellars into storage space for tools.

The authority has also given £50,000 to the project, which is expected to be finished later this year.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, Edinburgh City Council's environmental leader, said: "This is great news that a disused plot of waste ground is being turned into something useful.

"The project will not only benefit the local community but other Edinburgh residents on the allotment waiting list.

"We recently launched a new allotment strategy for the city which recognises our support to the increased number of people on the allotment plot waiting list."

'Unloved space'

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: "A touch of lateral thinking means that rather than building a mass of allotment sheds, we're able to use a relatively small grant to bring these redundant cellars back into use after 40 years as an altogether more elegant form of storage.

"We're delighted to be able to support the community of the World Heritage Site in this way, and reduce the distance people have to travel to allotments, while tidying up a previously unloved space."

Work has already started on clearing the site of undergrowth and investigating the soil conditions.

Sections of a retaining wall will also be restored, and the cellars opened up and repaired with new doors fitted.

Kate Kelly, who lives on Saunders Street, said: "I am delighted to see that after so many years this unsightly and neglected patch of land is to be returned to practical use."

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