Transformation of Orkney’s Papdale Park begins

Work has started on Papdale East Playpark following approval by Orkney Islands Council of a design by HarrisonStevens Landscape Architects for the rejuvenation of the three-hectare green space in Kirkwall.

Transformation of Orkney’s Papdale Park begins

(from left) Back row: James Wylie (OIC executive director of education, leisure and lifelong learning), Garry Burton (OIC service manager – leisure and culture), Michael Harvey (Sustrans), Donna Yule (NatureScot), Ross Sinclair (Andrew Sinclair Contractors) and Lyle Gillespie (Andrew Sinclair Contractors)

Front row: Councillor Gwenda Shearer (Chair of OIC education, leisure and housing committee) and Lorraine Craigie (PEPPA)

Old play equipment was removed in early January and over the coming weeks contractors will open up a culverted burn, create a network of paths, plant native shrubs and trees, and continue the creation of a wildflower meadow.

During the project, a new road crossing will be created linking the park to Kirkwall Grammar School and a plaza will be established for community use.

Liz Leech, associate landscape architect, HarrisonStevens, said: “The idea is to turn this open and exposed site into a place for people of all ages and for wildlife populations.

“Opening up the stream will bring new life to the park, as well as flood mitigation, and the new cycle path will link with some that already exist in order to provide green travel routes around Kirkwall.”

Once this stage of the work has been completed, community group, Papdale East Play Association, (PEPA) will lead phase two of the transformation, which will involve reinstating the play area. HarrisonStevens has already held sessions with pupils from neighbouring Papdale Primary and Kirkwall Grammar School to gather their ideas for the park and will return to the schools to work with pupils on the design.

The £670,000 cost of the phase one has been funded by Orkney Islands Council, Sustrans’ Places for Everyone fund, and NatureScot’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund, with additional funding coming from a Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes grant allocation and the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund. The project has also been supported by the Orkney Woodland Project and The Woodland Trust and the work is being carried out by Andrew Sinclair Contractors.

Michael Harvey, senior project for Sustrans embedded within Orkney Islands Council, said: “Building on the community-led ideas of Your Kirkwall, Sustrans has provided support for this project since the concept design stage back in 2018. We are delighted to see the project reach a construction stage and recognise the great deal of effort and partnership working which has gone in to achieving this. We wish Papdale East Playpark Association and the council every success with this important stage of project.”

Gwenda Shearer, chair, Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, OIC, said: “Our community has had a long serving aspiration and vision for a quality green space in the heart of Kirkwall’s main residential area – and we’re now seeing that vision spring into life.

“To see the work getting underway at Papdale Park is just fantastic and testament to the energy and enthusiasm of local champions who have absolutely driven this project forward, with the willing support of elected members, council officials and funding bodies.

“The shelter, plants and improved footpath and cycle ways - and in time a play area for children - that this area will provide, will be enjoyed by all and contribute towards Orkney’s COVID-19 recovery, providing options for increased physical activity through active travel, access to high quality public green space and the associated mental health benefits.”

Lorraine Craigie, chair, PEPA, said: “PEPA is delighted to see work starting on landscaping the Papdale Park. We appreciate the work that Orkney Islands Council and HarrisonStevens have done in planning and securing funds for this phase and look forward to seeing the end results. We will now work towards phase two - the play equipment.”

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