Campaigning to save local greenspace

This is one of a series of case studies from campaigners for their local Green Belts. In this one we speak to Jane of Ferniehill who has had to become an expert of planning to object to a development of 6000 homes on their local green space.

Jane is one of the members of the Green Belts Alliance. She has lived in Ferniehill, a community on the southern edge of Edinburgh, for 30 years. The community sits within the 20% most deprived postcodes in Scotland, but, due to its proximity to Edinburgh, suffers a particular pressure from developers wanting to build ‘executive homes’ for commuters.

In 2020 Jane found out that, within a few hundred meters of her house, 6000 new houses were planned to be built and that the community’s local green space, used across generations for dog walking, leisure and play, was being proposed for this development.

walking in the threatened Greenspace with the houses of Ferniehill behind

This land, referred to as “scrubland” by the developers, was designated as Green Belt in the development plan, and was the only natural area amongst a densely populated large estate and well-used locally, and a life-line for many during those COVID times. Jane had no experience in anything to do with planning or development but determined that she would fight it.

Jane told us that, due to the challenges that the community locally face, there weren’t many people who had the resources and capacity to campaign against the development and so she had to spend a lot of time researching and learning about the planning system by herself. She felt strongly that she wanted to do something but wasn’t sure what to do or how. “I’m one of those ‘Hold on a Minute’ people,” she said, laughing, “No-one is building on our local green space on my watch.”

Jane wrote a letter to put her case forward but felt it had little impact against a system stacked against communities but in favour of lawyers and developers. She searched online and came across Planning Democracy who immediately referred her to us for help. She spoke to our Green Belts Alliance Manager, Nikki Sinclair, who was able to explain policies and terminology and help her to make an objection. This, in turn, empowered her to lead a petition, leaflet the whole area and contact her MSPs and councillors. 

Jane says “I continue the fight on behalf of my community, encouraging others to support me in the campaign, it can be a lonely place but I wouldn’t be able to continue without APRS, their help is utterly invaluable”.

Jane is now waiting on the outcome of the Mossend decision before the case is decided by the council.

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