The lost walled garden of Granton Castle is a secret gem of the area. Dating back to late medieval times, when it was a hunting lodge for James IV, it's now the oldest undeveloped walled garden in the city.
The walled garden was lovingly kept as a market garden for many years after the castle was lost, but it's now become a bit of a wasteland - locked-up, neglected and overgrown in an old industrial estate. This important piece of social history is being rediscovered, however, and there are plans underway to reclaim and conserve the garden as a green space for the people of north Edinburgh.
Concerns about its future arose from proposals for 17 new townhouses to be built on the site, as part of the Granton Waterfront development. The land is owned by Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, a subsidiary of the council-owned EDI group. At the moment the developers have withdrawn their plans to build on the grounds, although there's an expectation that an application could be resubmitted somewhere down the line.
I think it would be fantastic to have these gardens back in use. The boost to the long term regeneration of the area would be a lot more valuable than a one-off cash boost from a housing development. As one campaigner put it on twitter, "A Scottish renaissance garden can become a focal point for the Granton Renaissance!" (@GASPurves)
There are two community groups working hard to restore and safeguard this historic site, although both with different visons for its use.Friends of Granton Walled Garden have drawn up plans for it to be renovated and retained as Openspace within the new Granton Waterfront Masterplan – more about their ideas and campaign action at https://grantoncastlewalledgarden.wordpress.com
The campaign received a bit of a boost from the council this month, when the Petitions Committee agreed to submit their petition to the Economy Committee for consideration "with a recommendation that it supports the Friends of Granton Castle Walled Garden in their attempts to ensure the medieval walled garden is protected, accessible and well maintained."
An alternative plan has been submitted by the Granton Improvement Society, a community trust who seek to make it the setting for a high profile garden festival showcasing artist and gardener collaborations. This would be one element of the ambitious 'Granton on Sea' regeneration project you can read about here: https://grantonimprovementsociety.wordpress.com
There are fantastic ideas being put forward for its future use, and the fight continues. I hope that common ground can be found between all interested parties and this fascinating piece of environmental heritage can be restored as a community asset and green jewel of Granton.