Work underway on new Winchburgh park

Pupils from Holy Family and Winchburgh Primary Schools cut the first sod on the new park project.
Pupils from Holy Family and Winchburgh Primary Schools cut the first sod on the new park project.

Work has commenced on a brand new 78-acre district park at Winchburgh.

Auldcathie Park will provide a large area of green space, over twice the size of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens, to the west of the development for the whole community to use and enjoy.

The first phase of the park is scheduled to open in spring 2021.

More than 500 members of the Winchburgh community, and a further 350 Winchburgh primary school pupils, were involved in a detailed consultation in 2018, contributing ideas and providing feedback on options for the design and layout of the park, which will become the town’s largest outdoor recreational venue.

An estimated 31,000 trees will be planted, providing a number of woodland walks as well as extensive areas of new wildlife habitat. The first 420 trees, donated by the local Winchburgh Community Growing Group through the Woodland Trust, will be planted this winter.

The original design for the park extended over 45 acres, but this expanded to 78 acres with the final plan including extensive meadows and woodland areas, including wide open spaces for picnics and open play. Further dedicated play areas have been incorporated to suit different age groups from young children to teens, including sensory play and large natural play areas, as well as an enclosed dog park.

A café with public toilets will be located in the centre of the park, with community growing areas and orchards nearby. The design also includes a 2.5-kilometre loop of accessible paths, which will connect with the Union Canal towpath, as well as mountain bike and fitness trails. Viewing areas will be located on higher ground affording long-range views across Winchburgh and to the Forth bridges beyond.

Auldcathie Park will be situated adjacent to the new schools’ campus area, which is to be located on former farmland on the south east boundary of the park site and will feature playing fields and sports pitches. Within the masterplan area there will be two new secondary schools and at least two new primary schools.

John Hamilton, CEO, Winchburgh Developments Limited, said: “The new Auldcathie District Park is an integral part of the Winchburgh masterplan, spanning an impressive 78 acres and providing the local Winchburgh community and the wider region with a new green space to come and enjoy. The response from the Winchburgh community to this project has been fantastic, and we’ve very much valued their ideas and design input which we’ve incorporated into the final plan for the park.

“Now, as well as offering beautiful surroundings in which to relax and unwind, we will also provide important new recreational facilities benefitting the health and wellbeing of the people living and working here.

“We will continue to maintain contact with the local community as the park naturally evolves over time. Over one and a half acres of the park will be transferred to Winchburgh Community Growers, and we are also assessing wider opportunities for a potential community management scheme on a long-term basis.”

Tom Conn, executive councillor for the environment at West Lothian Council, said: “We are delighted to have a large district park being created at Winchburgh, bringing the total number in West Lothian to eight overall.

“Not only are we fortunate to have investment in another large area of greenspace for leisure and recreation, but this is a remarkable operation making use of what was once derelict land and turning it into a positive asset.

“The community consultation process has been extensive throughout Winchburgh and the park promises to provide a wide range of facilities for all. With a rise in interest in food growing, we are particularly pleased that the Winchburgh Community Growing Group has been working closely with the developers to ensure the creation of an orchard and retaining an acre of land in the park for community growing.”

John West, from the Winchburgh Community Growing Group, said: “Our Growing Group has been growing rapidly since being formed in June 2018.”