Concern beauty spot at Milngavie may be converted into allotments

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Several residents of Milngavie have expressed concern that a local beauty spot could be converted into allotments which are not wanted by local people.

East Dunbartonshire Council’s draft food growing strategy includes plans to build allotments at Roselea Drive, which is next to Craigmaddie and Mugdock Reservoirs, areas noted for nautral beauty and diverse wildlife.

The recently established Barloch Residents’ Association is campaigning on this issue. Secretary Lorne Campbell said: “There has been no consultation with local residents about this and we basically found out about it by accident.

“Very few people in Milngavie are interested in allotments as the vast majority have gardens we can use if we wish to grow food.

“It appears only around 50 people across East Dunbartonshire want allotments and they are from other areas, so it makes no sense to force them to travel to Milngavie instead of providing allotments where they live. There are allotments in Kirkintilloch which are in a state of disrepair so you’d think it would make more sense to get those back in good condition so people can use them.

“This is an area of natural beauty with a wide variety of wildlife species including bats and deer, which would be negatively impacted by allotments.”

Murray Forbes, another member of the residents’ association, added: “It seems like the council just wants to bulldoze these things through without proper consultation with residents. There was supposed to be a consultation event, but it ended up being cancelled at the last minute and moved due to election day. It was held in the Fraser Centre at short notice and I don’t think  anybody turned up.

“If allotments are built that means sheds, toilets, probably a car park, all of which will negatively impact on the reservoir. The land is owned by Scottish Water and I believe they are against this but have been bullied into submission.”

Jim Gibbons is one of Milngavie’s three councillors. He said: “I have been talking  to local residents and it appears that there was no letter drop. While I fully support the Scottish Government’s aim to have a food growing strategy, I would like a statement from the council that there will be no allotments at this location. The council’s proposals are causing a great deal of  concern throughout East Dunbartonshire.”

Lynn Cree, secretary of Friends of Milngavie Reservoir, said: “Milngavie Reservoir is a national heritage asset and a designed garden and landscape site of national importance. It is a unique site that attracts many visitors to enjoy uninterrupted vistas across the city and surrounding countryside.

 “FoMR is of the view that utilising ‘Roselea’ site for the purposes of allotments/mixed use would have an adverse impact on the setting of Milngavie Reservoir.

 “Whilst a well-designed ‘green’ use could be acceptable, the issues of both pedestrian and vehicular access and parking and the need for shelter and servicing (water and electricity) would greatly alter the character of this area.

“FOMR is keen to work with EDC, Scottish Water and local community groups to reach consensus in revitalising this green space to support local habitats, contribute to the biodiversity agenda and improve connectivity of the green network in a sustainable way.  A sensitive solution would not detract from the setting of Milngavie Reservoir.”

East Dunbartonshire Council’s convener of Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, Councillor Billy Hendry said: “In line with legislative requirements to increase allotment provision, based on current demand, the council would require to support three new allotment sites in East Dunbartonshire, in addition to the existing allotments in Kirkintilloch.

“The council’s suggested sites contained in the draft strategy for consultation purposes are:  Etive Park, Bishopbriggs, Craigfoot Field, Milton of Campsie and Ashburn Gardens, Milngavie.  Other sites indicated in the draft strategy, including the area at Mugdock Reservoir, were included as potential sites for community food growing by local groups, dependent on local demand.

“The council took reasonable steps to ensure that the Food Growing Strategy consultation was well publicised and only residents living beside the proposed sites for council-led allotments were mailed directly.  Residents across the authority were informed through public notices in local newspapers, a dedicated webpage, regular social media posts, leaflet drops at council hubs and libraries and all community councils (and councillors) were informed.

The drop-in sessions were held in various locations during the consultation period of April 15  to June 9, 2019, to give all residents an opportunity to attend and have their say.”