Workshop looks at Canalside Initiatives

Today I took part in a community workshop organised by the Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative.

The project has brought together local community activists who are committed to the regeneration of the canal side and the introduction of a range of facilities including sustainable housing, commercial sites, voluntary organisations and a community hall.

People are keen that any future development does not become soulless flats and the overarching vision is to create a new, thriving community in the heart of the city.  I recently blogged on the initiative, providing more detail on the background to the project.

To help develop their ideas, the group has called in the expertise of the Glass-House, a national charity that supports public participation in the design of built environments.

The event this week was about sharing ideas and those attending were asked to bring in photos, sketches or ideas of the sorts of buildings that excite them.  As a former town planner, I found the exercise fascinating, speaking to local people and hearing their views on what the community could grow to become.

The canalside sites offer a big opportunity to transform the area.  The new school will be an important addition to the area and will mean better, safer access routes are needed.

Cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Amsterdam show the opportunities that can come from regenerating the areas around canals.  Instead of being places people pass through – they can become areas people want to visit.  The workshop saw us debating the urban design principles we felt should inform development of the area and mapping what’s there already.   

We also discussed the choices that would need to be made in relation to what kind of area we wanted:  mixed residential tenures, scope for small businesses and shops, better walking and cycling routes around and across the canal and improved links down to the Haymarket rail interchange, better use of the canal and seeing the water as a resource and a means of generating interest in the area and reflecting Fountainbridge’s industrial heritage in the area’s development were the key asks.  

To find out more about the project and to become involved, visit FCI’s website here.