Edinburgh Community Backgreens Association

The Group
Two residents groups in Gorgie-Dalry, Edinburgh, were seeking to renovate derelict tenemental greenspace on two sites: one with 234 households and one with 63 households.  The project resulted from a study carried out by Canmore Housing Association that showed resident support for improvement of tenement backgreens.  Residents associations were set up at each of the sites along with an umbrella group for the two projects.  The associations engaged a project worker to coordinate the process.

What were they trying to achieve?
The three main research questions where:

  • What new features and services should be included in the renovated tenement greenspaces?
  • Who would participate in the renovation project and what would they offer residents with assistance from outside agencies?
  • How would the backgreens be managed sustainably?

How did they go about it?
The research proceeded in two stages in 2005, with SCARF funding supporting the second.  In the first stage, residents surveyed all local residents and also made a detailed survey of each site.  In the second stage, the project worker and residents prepared outline designs for each site, and plans for implementation and ongoing maintenance.  This was done by participative workshops to identify priorities, using the Planning for Real method.  This included using the models of the sites and presentations on possible facilities.

What did they learn?
Priorities identified by residents included composting facilities, land for growing produce, and recreational areas.  All residents were then surveyed again on the proposed designs, and on their willingness to volunteer.

What difference did it make?
In 2006, volunteer teams carried out much of the regeneration, working the equivalent of 456 full days.  The groups were awarded further funding to implement community composting facilities; and work is ongoing into possible factoring models for future maintenance.  The Association planned to start work on a further five sites in 2007.