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Astley Ainslie Hospital Rights of Way

Astley Ainslie access matters December 2016

Those living in south Edinburgh are fortunate to have had access through the grounds of Astley Ainslie for decades. But with NHS due to vacate the site in 2019 major changes are on the way. With individuals and organisations concerned about continuing public access across the site, the Grange Association conducted a one day survey in 2012 at the five main gates (see Map) and interviewed over 1000 people. Whilst this illustrated the high level of usage it couldn’t prove the existence of rights of way so the local Green Party asked ScotWays, an access charity based in Leith, for advice. A rights of way (RoW) questionnaire was adapted for the site retaining the four key questions that must be answered to prove a route to be a RoW.

Does the route go from 1 public place to another – has it been used without permission – has it been used for 20 years – and does it follow more or less the same route each time?

An excellent response allowed ScotWays to analyse the results, clearly proving three legitimate RoWs. City of Edinburgh Council and the NHS have accepted these and they have been mapped and added as Asserted to the National Catalogue of Rights of Way (held by ScotWays).

The RoWs are for pedestrian and cyclists, not vehicles. One route goes from Canaan Lane (entrance 5) to South Oswald road (3) where the anomaly of the locked gate remains.  A second route joins this (rights of way are in themselves public places) from Cluny Place/Egypt Mews (4) and a third comes south from Grange Loan/WhitehouseTerrace (1) using the small side entrance by the big black gates. We trust that the access through the gates at the north east corner, (nearest Kilgraston Road), is too valuable a site entrance to be closed off.

There is an article by Sue Tritton, above, explaining how the surrounding communities will be involved from next this year, to ensure that such a beautiful site is developed as sympathetically as possible. As master plans are drawn up, the Rights of Way will be clearly shown so that developers should know to avoid them. We trust that this will greatly ease tensions over public access in the years ahead!

Jo Doake