Welcome to the Flower Colonies. We are a vibrant community in the City of Edinburgh, about a mile and a half Southwest of the city, just off Slateford Road and opposite the Caledonian Brewery
The area has its own residents association, the Flower Colonies Resident Association or FCRA, which aims to look after the interests of its residents, preserve its architectural heritage, and improve the area for the future. A committee meets regularly and sends representatives to other local initiatives such as the Shandon Local Food Group, and to the Merchiston Community Council on behalf of the residents. The goal is also to arrange events for the local community where they can meet neighbours and get to appreciate fully their local environment.
The Flower Colonies have been working together for some years now to ensure that the proposed development on the old factory site of 1 Slateford Road reflects the wishes of the local community. During this time, we’ve discovered we are a diverse and fascinating group of people with strong ideas and a wealth of experience between us. We’re certainly not shy about voicing our opinions!
As a result, the developers’ plans now feature lower buildings, set further away from the existing properties, with more consideration about issues caused by overlooking or overshadowing our houses, gardens and the shared green behind Violet Terrace. We should be proud of the democratic process we’ve followed to gather our views and draw support from the media, our councillors, sympathetic architects and urban planners.
By pulling together, we have made sure our collective voices have been heard. This is very much in the spirit that the Colonies designers and builders constructed our homes back in the 19th century.
We achieved this successful outcome by doing two things. Firstly, we actively campaigned against the initial proposals of the developer, AMA Newtown Ltd. But secondly, we worked with architect and urban designer Duncan Whatmore and JUMP to come up with our own positive plan for the area, known as the contra-plan. This combination was a winning formula, and we share it with you because we believe that an active campaign always works better when backed up by a positive vision of what the world could look like. The fact that so many people in the neighbourhood were able to collaborate to produce alternative plans is a true testament to community spirit in the area. We are still campaigning to make even more improvements to the current development plans.
We have also had invaluable help from Merchiston Community Council, who have been greatly supportive throughout the whole process.
We discussed at our last FCARA meeting other ways in which we would like to see our wishes brought to life for the area we love living in. The things we agreed we would be focussing on next include:
- Upgrading the old railway path that runs behind the Colonies.
- Addressing parking issues, perhaps by linking with the City Car Club.
- Restoring the stone plaques at the end of the terraces that feature the Flower Colonies beehive and building trades of the original owner-tenants and shareholders of the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company.
- Establishing ourselves as a conservation area.
As ever, the FCARA committee will keep local residents updated with news and views about progress.