We understand from the developers, Ediston and Orion Capital Managers, that they hope to submit their planning application for the site adjacent to the park towards the end of July. The fate of the trees will be subject to a separate application, as will the form proposed for a possible new entrance to south west of the park. We have so far failed to ascertain whether all these applications would run concurrently or separately. Based on the latest information available to us the position of the Friends is summed up below:
The Friends believe the New Town North development is likely to have a highly regrettable effect on the park. We will be issuing a newsletter with more detail to our membership soon and will post it on the FRRCA Facebook page. Below is summary of our main concerns –
- Trees: the trees in the park badly need management but we believe only nonviable or unsafe trees should be felled; none to facilitate the development. Suitable and sustainable replacements must be subject to a legally enforceable maintenance programme.
- Buildings: six storey buildings placed close to the south and west boundary of the park will have a brutal effect on it. Maximum tree screening is essential. The conflict between the interests of park users and those of developers who wish to provide the purchasers of their flats with an unimpeded view of the park must be resolved in favour of the former.
- Scale of development: 340 new residences are currently envisaged, with the possibility of more if the proposed hotel proves unviable and the site is repurposed for housing as suggested by the developers. This will bring an influx of several hundred new residents who could subject such an immediately accessible park to undue pressure when it is already half the size recommended for the area in the Council’s Open Space Strategy. The scale of the development is, of course, also responsible for the height and bulk of the buildings.
- Movement of cyclists and pedestrians through the park: friction can occur between these different park users. If the proposed new entrance to the south west of the park receives consent, careful consideration will be needed to configure the way cyclists and pedestrians access the park and the National Cycle Route. We would oppose the creation of any new path which cuts through currently uninterrupted recreational space.
- Boundary definition: we believe that it is imperative that there is clear distinction between public (the park) and private (the development) space. It must be defined by a fence and ideally trees and shrubbery.
- Private versus public space between the proposed crescent blocks: this will now include some private ground contrary to previous statements by the developers and we have failed to get clarity about the extent of this and how it might affect access to the park from the south.