Over 100 Winchburgh school children gathered to plant bulbs in celebration of the opening of Scotland’s largest new park. The opening of phase 1 of the Auldcathie District Park marks a major milestone in the development of the historic West Lothian mining village, which is home to one of the largest placemaking projects in the UK.

The bulbs will add extra colour to a new avenue once spring arrives. The students were joined for the occasion by local residents, John Hamilton, CEO of Winchburgh Developments, all four local councillors, three Winchburgh home developers and local MSP, Fiona Hyslop.

The phase 1 opening unlocks around a quarter of the 85-acre park.  It re-opens the Drovers Road link path to the Union Canal from the village, allowing locals and visitors to enjoy 20 acres, the equivalent of 6.5 football pitches, of grassed playing areas, new walking and running routes and an enclosed dog park. The celebration also marked the handing over of a new 1.5 acre community garden to the Winchburgh Community Growing Group.

John Hamilton, CEO, Winchburgh Developments Limited said: “Auldcathie District Park is one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of our masterplan for Winchburgh and it’s fantastic to open the first phase for the local community to enjoy. After £8 million worth of investment and extensive reclamation works, it’s great to finally see the land come back to life. We recognise the importance of quality outdoor spaces for both physical and mental wellbeing of the community here, which is why we have invested significantly in this project.”

Fiona Hyslop, MSP, said: “Auldcathie District Park will be a wonderful asset for the Winchburgh and wider West Lothian community and will add more fantastic leisure and open space for local residents.”

Julie Procter, Chief Executive, Greenspace Scotland added: “The work carried out by Winchburgh Developments Ltd at Auldcathie is a fantastic example of an initiative that really adds value and enriches the lives of those who live there – not just because of the creation of new high-quality greenspace which will make Winchburgh an attractive and vibrant place to live and work but because of the involvement of the local community in all stages of the project.”

Ian Harvey, Head Teacher at Winchburgh Primary School said: “It was fantastic to have the pupils of Winchburgh Primary included in celebrating the opening of Auldcathie park. Over the past years the pupils have been engaged in the park development right from the early planning stages. Being involved now and having the opportunity to plant their own bulbs, which we look forward to seeing bloom in future years, was a nice touch to mark their involvement. Our school community are all really excited and looking forward to enjoying this new greenspace in the years ahead.”

Colette Murray, Head Teacher at Holy Family Primary School said: “It is such a great idea to involve the children in creating a beautiful display of daffodils in the new park. Every year the children will be reminded that they were there on the day the park opened.”

Once the next two phases are open, the community will have access to 40 acres of the park, which already boasts over 15,000 new woodland trees and shrubs as well as more than two kilometres of paths and fitness trails. Other developments include a new outdoor play park, designed with the input of local school pupils and installed by Broxburn-based Russell Play.

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

A significant part of the site reclaimed from the Auldcathie landfill, which had lain unused for over 17 years. Extensive reclamation and capping works have taken place over the last two years to revitalise and prepare the site.

The final park, to be completed in 2023, will be over twice the size of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. It will see a further 15,000 trees planted and will include a variety of different open spaces including a dedicated bike park, additional paths and fitness trails, extensive wildlife areas and a community orchard. The viewing areas on higher ground will afford long-range views across Winchburgh and to the Forth bridges beyond. On completion, a café with public toilets will be located in the centre of the park.

Auldcathie District Park will be situated adjacent to the new schools’ campus area, which is located on the south-east boundary of the park site. With good connections between the park and schools’ campus, these ‘schools in the park’ will feature playing fields and synthetic sports pitches, providing a quality learning environment for future pupils.

Any enquires should be directed to Penny Lochhead, Community, Sports and Greenspace Manager on 07802 500991 or [email protected]