Livingston South/Central Blue-Green Network LFGNP Walking Tour
LFGN Partnership tour in Livingston
18 AUGUST 2017, LIVINGSTON The Lothians and Fife Green Network Partnership tour took place in Livingston. The focus of the event was to highlight the blue-green network in the central/southern part of the former new town leading from West Lothian Civic Centre, through Almondvale Park heading towards Dedridge Pond, looping back along the Dedridge Burn.
Starting off in Almondvale Park, the group was guided by Diane Mylchreest, landscape architect at West Lothian Council, who explained the transformation of the park through a series of landmarks and features. Improvement works included active travel opportunities with an upgraded National Cycle Route 75 that runs through the Park, recreational areas such as seating with open site lines, an adventure playground, viewing platforms along the river edge and signage.
Biodiversity was given a boost through the planting of spring bulbs, a wildflower meadows and tree thinning & maintenance. West Lothian Council and Sustrans, through its Community Links programme, each contributed a total of £1.2 million of funding for the improvements of the park.
Notable also was the public artwork in the park such as the underpasses as well as creative details in the railings and paving. Marion Parola, an artist from Bespoke Atelier based in Glasgow, had been involved in creating the four murals spoke about engaging the local community and especially young people and capturing aspects of West Lothian’s history in these mural projects.
Camille Archer, Arts Officer at West Lothian Council, emphasised the significance of linking public art with social cohesion and accessibility to green spaces such as Almondvale Park and the adjacent Dedridge area, while pointing out sites including the “Wave” structure at the Confluence wetlands along the Dedridge Burn (photo below). A public art map can be found here.
In terms of blue infrastructure, there was plenty to observe. A viewing platform had been included overlooking the river Almond as part of the improvement plans at the Howden Bridge weir.
Crossing the bridge into the Dedridge plantation, we met Gordon Walker, landscape architect at Mark Hamilton Landscape Services of Bathgate, who talked about the technical processes involved and stages of improvement including the management of silt deposits by separating the Millennium pond into two- one for catching the deposits in order to allow the other to transform into a wildlife habitat.
Gordon and Linda McConaghie from CSGNT emphasised the invaluable role that group members from the long running Dedridge Environment Ecology Project (DEEP), a community initiative, played in regenerating the Dedridge Burn corridor in order to benefit the local community by improving access and quality of public open space whilst simultaneously enhancing biodiversity.
Linda, who was involved in the South Livingston Blue Green Network project back in 2014/15, talked about the partnership project which brought together CSGNT, WLC, Woodland Trust Scotland and 3 active environmental groups – DEEP, Murieston Environmental Group and Bellsquarry Woodland Group. The overall aim was to improve the quality, connectivity and functionality of the ‘green’ elements of urban landscape but also to improve the ‘blue’ network of ponds, wetlands and urban drainage systems scattered along the length of the river corridors.
The CSGN and West Lothian Council were also instrumental in facilitating and funding this project. Project funders included the CSGN(£60k) with match funders being the LandTrust (£150k) and West Lothian Council (£50k). This enabled the creation of the wetland along the Dedridge Burn and Murieston Water which was designed to reduce the impact of flooding and pollution downstream. A suite of access and amenity improvements were carried out as well as woodland management and creation works along both river corridors. An on-line wetland at Bellsquarry to further reduce flooding and pollution along the Dedridge Burn was also created.
Returning via the Lanthorn Pond and adjacent park, a site which was allocated grants from the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Spaces Scotland scheme, one could see how natural features in the park had been enhanced to support the growth of native species and wildlife. In addition, play park features had been installed alongside improvements of drainage and paths all of which added recreational value to the area and removed the open barren green desert unfortunately so common to many urban areas.
Together, the Dedridge plantation and Almondvale Park projects create an enhanced valuable green network for Livingston. Active travel routes and green infrastructure which were enhanced or transformed have created important links. This connectivity was intrinsic to the Livingston Development Corporation’s original plan which recognised the need for well managed and accessible green space. One can see the evidence for this in the concept and creation of ‘greenways’ to separate out pedestrian and cyclist from vehicles. Building on this and by taking a partnership approach with various funders, West Lothian Council has been able to provide a lively and inclusive green network in the heart of Livingston.
LFGNP would like to thank their partners for attending and of course the speakers without whom it would have been impossible to organise this event.
See #BlueGreenLivi on Twitter to see more photos from the day or add your own comments.BACK