The £620,000 first phase of work at Inshes District Park was officially opened today (Friday 24th August) by the new Provost of the city, Councillor Alex Graham, with assistance from pupils at the nearby Inshes Primary School and local Ward Councillors. Since work began last autumn, 700 metres of primary paths and 680 metres of secondary paths have been built, landscaping works completed and 640 trees and 7,350 shrubs planted. A car park, with capacity for 33 cars and set among landscaped mounds and swales, has been built off Stevenson Road.
Phase 1 covers 8.3 hectares and is located beside Inshes Primary School, between Sir Walter Scott Drive and Stevenson Road.
When completed the district park, to be developed in three phases, will cover 29 hectares (72 acres) and deliver a range of environments – from a flat and tended area between Stevenson Road and Sir Walter Scott Drive to a much more natural wild area in the steeper area at the top bounded by existing burns and even a small waterfall.
Local councilors are keen to explore ways of boosting the park fund so that things like a well-equipped adventure playground and amphitheatre can be added to the park at an early stage. They have, with Inverness South Community Council and other local residents, set up Inshes Community Association, a community company, to help develop and enhance the park for the longer term with community support.
Phase 2, of 6.3 hectares, is set in rising ground between Stevenson Road and the recently-constructed Milton of Leys link road. Phase 3, the largest area at 14.4 hectares, initially rises steeply from Milton of Leys link road then levels off to the north western boundary of Milton of Leys.
The funding for the project comes from contributions made by the various developers of housing in the neighbourhood and also the Landfill Communities Fund
As each house is built, the developer makes a contribution towards the purchase of the land for the park, the park construction and also its future maintenance. The current total stands at £1.2 million of which some £600,000 is available to develop the park, which includes £200,000 from the Landfill Communities Fund. E B Scotland, through the Landfill Communities Fund, encourages landfill operators to donate money to environmental projects.
As more funds become available from developers future phases of the park will be rolled out. The timing will depend on the rate of development in this area of Inverness.
From the car park there will be direct access to the school so parents may use this facility as a “drop off” point for their children. Immediately behind the school there is an area that can be used by pupils as an environmental educational facility. The area has raised beds and fruit tree planting.
Carefully constructed mounds placed sympathetically throughout the park will ensure a natural pleasing environment with planting of grasslands, shrubs and native trees.
The planting and grass regime reflects the need to minimize ongoing maintenance costs and to reinforce the semi-natural, agricultural pattern of the existing vegetation. Ecological diversity will be supported through the planting blocks of appropriate native tree and shrub species. Large areas of grasslands will be sown with appropriate conservation mixes to ensure a low maintenance grass cutting regime. Significant areas, particularly in the lower section, will be maintained by more frequent grass cutting to provide recreational open space and a kick about pitch.
The exact layout and facilities to be provided in later phases have yet to be decided but a similar theme to Phase 1 will continue with the provision of primary and secondary paths linking to adjacent roads and pathways with planting and landscaping throughout.
Councillor Graham said: “I warmly welcome the creation of this important green open space in a fast developing area of the city. This is a significant development for Inverness and I am delighted that the park is being funded by a combination of developer contributions and money from the Landfill Communities Fund. The future role of local residents in supporting the park long-term through the Inshes Community Association is particularly encouraging.”
Also at the opening ceremony were the representatives for the local Inverness South Ward, Councilors Carolyn Caddick, Thomas Prag, and Ken Gowans.
Councillor Prag, who is Chairman of the Council’s Planning Environmental and Development Committee, said “It is great to see this begin to take shape. The District Park at Inshes has the added benefit for schoolchildren of being right beside their school – an asset they can readily use to develop environmental education. Inverness is already the natural place to be for people and wildlife, with green, clean and open spaces. This exciting project will provide green space in the city that is accessible to local people at the heart of local communities. This District Park is an important city-wide project – local residents will be the first to appreciate it, but it’s going to be a welcome addition for all of Inverness. We are increasingly aware of the value of such spaces for health and social well-being.”
Shona Kelly, Acting Head Teacher at Inshes Primary School, said: “Children attending Inshes Primary and their families will greatly benefit from the leisure amenities that will be provided within the park and it will be an asset to the local area. The park will provide excellent opportunities for outdoor learning and also support activities within our Eco School curriculum.”