Midmar Paddock is much-valued local amenity. Although contiguous with Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill, it is privately owned. It is (or should be) protected from housing development by being designated in the Local Development Plan (LDP) as Greenbelt, Open Space, a Special Landscape Area and a Local Nature Conservation Site. During the consultation on the LDP in 2014/15, a representation was made to re-schedule it for housing. We (and many others) objected and the designations were retained. Since then the site has been twice advertised for sale as a “development opportunity”. There has been no outcome in terms of a planning application but local residents are concerned that this will eventually be tried – despite the theoretical bar on development. Moreover, we have to anticipate that the next revision of the LDP will provoke another attempt to remove the protective designations.
Friends of Midmar Paddock
At a public meeting on 18 September, chaired by Cllr Neil Ross, a Friends of Midmar Paddock group was formed with the support of local politicians across parties. The Constitution of the group (updated Dec 2019) is here and the latest campaign leaflet is here.
Annual General Meeting
This was on 14th January 2020.
Survey of usage
The Friends of Midmar Paddock have carried out a survey to find out how frequently Midmar Paddock is being used and which paths are most used. The trustees attended the Edinburgh Local Access Forum on 31st January and tabled 760 User Survey forms recording 2,332 signed records of path usage within the Paddock. This is seen as a very substantial amount of evidence in favour of Rights of Way being declared across the Paddock. The submission was received favourably by the Forum and it now goes forward to the city’s lawyers to consider the case for asserting up to six Rights of Way.
Midmar Paddock Update – August 2020
- Usage: The public’s usage of the field during lockdown had to be seen to be believed. Good spring weather made picnicking a popular activity. It was a reminder of how important greenspace like this is to a community’s physical and mental wellbeing.
- Mud: Thankfully, the winter mud has disappeared and been replaced with a hard clay surface. It is just the characteristics of the terrain.
- Himalayan balsam: Last year’s blitz on the large areas of Himalayan balsam has shown a significant reduction in this invasive plant, but ecologists reckon it takes three years to exhaust the seed base, so the work goes on. Fortnightly checks through the lockdown months have lead to the removal of around 200 plants per visit, with plants ranging from metre-high plants with developing seedcases, to 100mm high tiddlers.
- Rights of Way: Last September, the City Council’s legal team said:
“Having considered the evidence available, Edinburgh Council will shortly be seeking to assert that a number of Rights of Way exist across Midmar Paddock and getting these formalised. Council officers will be proceeding to take the relevant action to assert these rights. The evidence collected and provided to the Council by the Friends of Midmar Paddock has been invaluable in informing the Council in this regard.”
We had hoped to have a further update on this to report but nothing more has been heard.
- Local Development Plan: The public consultation on the next LDP called “City Plan 2030” has come and gone. We were pleased to note that there had been an exhaustive study of all possible vacant sites in Edinburgh with detailed appraisal of their merits and demerits. “The Braids”, “Hermitage Golf Course” and “Blackford Hill” were all assessed up for their housing potential, but each was thankfully dismissed based on this statement:
“The site is of value for the strategic green network, due to lying within an area identified as a green network opportunity in Edinburgh itself. The site is currently used as open space and contributes to the unbroken landscape scale multi‐functional green network stretching from Midlothian to Blackford Hill.”
It was interesting to see that these sites were also being dismissed on the grounds that they did not have sufficient primary school and secondary school infrastructure capacity. We concluded that Midmar Paddock, whilst not mentioned specifically, was covered by these appraisals.
- Next steps: These two major planning statements make the future of the Paddock appear secure in its current form. However, the 1,800+ consultation comments are being scrutinised by the planning authority and will be used to create a Draft Plan, due to be published next month. We hope to see a continuing emphasis on the statement in the “Choices for City Plan 2030” document (one of the several LDP consultation papers) which says that:
“We want Edinburgh to be a city which supports everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. To do this we want to create a network of greenspaces that protects our beautiful green setting and helps people make sustainable travel choices.”
Commenting on the many published papers was not easy, as one could only comment within the Council’s strict framework of statements but, in our response, we commended the emphasis on the value of greenspaces at every opportunity. We will study the Draft Plan to check whether the above noble statements have gone forward to this document.
Meantime enjoy all the greenspaces around us.