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Portobello Park
Saving Green Space In Scotland

Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) has been fighting for Eight years to stop the City of Edinburgh Council from building on Portobello Park, a much loved and well-used local public park. Sadly, the council has neglected the Park over recent years, even moving away the football teams that used to play there every weekend. Green space is essential to our health and wellbeing, especially within a city and we need to stop the erosion of this precious asset. With a little investment and ´TLC´ the park would once again become a fantastic asset to the whole community.

The Council wants to build a new high school on the Park and while PPAG strongly supports the new school, particularly as there are many parents, children and grandparents among its supporters, we believe the school does not need to be built on a public park. The Council has identified alternative sites where it could be built, WITHOUT loss of open space.

The Park is inalienable common good land and belongs to ALL people for ALL time . In September 2012, PPAG won a historic legal battle when the Court of Session ruled that it was ILLEGAL to build on the Park.

In its determination to build on the park, the City of Edinburgh Council introduced a private bill to overturn the legal protection of Portobello Park.


The inalienable common good status of the land should have ensured that the park remained as recreational land for future generations but unfortunately the bill recently passed the final stage in parliament with only the most rudimentary examination of its merits. It was clear that a political decision had already been made to pass the bill even before it was introduced (some MSPs expressed their support without knowing what was in the bill) but this became increasingly clear during the process.


We were curtailed in the time given to present evidence and there was no in depth questioning of the council’s statements by the bill committee nor was there any opportunity to give proper consideration to the amendment to the bill.  This bill will set a precedent for other councils in Scotland who want to develop common good land.


 Already East Renfrewshire council has considered the use of a private bill to enable it to build a school on Cowan Park in Barrhead.  Other councils will undoubtedly follow suit, putting common good land across Scotland at risk.  We have taken legal advice and further questions are being raised as to how we might proceed. 

The replacement of the school has dragged on for far too long however it is worth bearing in mind that:

° In 2003 the council was happy to rebuild the school on site but money was not provided to do this;
° In 2006 the council was warned that they did not have the power to build on Portobello Park;
° In 2008 the council obtained, but hid from councillors and the public, a legal opinion that stated they did not have the power to build on Portobello Park;
° In 2011 the council gave itself planning permission to build on the Park but a contractor has yet to be appointed;
° In 2012 the council lost an expensive legal appeal where its action was declared ultra vires and it was confirmed that they had no legal power to build on the Park – something we told them in 2006.

From their actions it is clear that the Council have prioritised the financial benefits of development of Portobello Park over the provision of a new school for Portobello.

Over the years the council has modified its plans as a result of pressure and objection from us. Since 2006 this is what we have achieved:

° Removal of the proposed housing on Portobello Park and Golf Course;
° Protection of the Golf Course as open space through Fields in Trust status;
° Clarification of the legal position surrounding inalienable common good land;
° The promise of the existing school site being given over to open space and protected by Fields in Trust status;
° The promise of full and free access in perpetuity to the school sports facilities for local residents.

We appreciate your support in achieving these concessions, which only came about because of your objections.

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Holyrood official in row over conflict of interest - Sunday Herald

Read This - Extract from Feu Disposition by Sir James Millar - 16 November 1898 - Click Here

Cort of Appeal decision

For a history of the battle to save the Park please click on the Park Timeline below.

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