For the last three years, North Berwick Trust’s Estates Group have worked with contractors North Berwick Gardening and Turfcare services to develop 16 hectares of land owned by the Trust (formerly part of the Mains Farm) adjacent to the recent Cala Homes development.

Mains Farm factors (currently Scottish Woodlands and paid by residents of the Cala development to maintain the estate), do not pay for the upkeep of North Berwick Trust’s park.

In 2021, the Trust spent over £23,000 maintaining the park, solely for the benefit of the community. This included emptying bins and litter picking, strimming the plantations, repairing fences and clearing a suitable area to re-home North Berwick High School’s apiary. Trees have been planted, wildflowers sown and paths mown. These efforts are to make the park a pleasant place to be and where people can go to enjoy informal recreation. Thank you to the many volunteers who help maintain the Park and engage in our community events.

Unfortunately, there have been some incidences of anti-social behaviour at the park over the last year. Holes were cut in some of the fences and also grass cuttings from gardens were dumped inside the plantations. This means that garden weeds such as dandelions could be introduced into the park. The Park bins have also been used for dumping domestic waste, which results in increased costs for the Trust to empty bins more frequently. Please contact the Trust directly if you are made aware of further incidents whilst enjoying the park.

Summary of Park Consultation

In 2021 a sub-group of the Estates group was formed comprising of 3 community members with an interest and expertise in land management and nature conservation. The sub-group were tasked to develop a proposal for a 5-year management plan for the land. The report was developed with significant professional input and the sub-group dedicated time and effort planning and implementing an extensive community consultation. The Trust extends their sincere thanks to Kathy Duncan, John Hunt, Dr Libby Morris (trustee) and Mike Thornton.

The Trust were delighted with the 430 responses received from the consultation. Thank you to all those who took the time to engage and for the many excellent suggestions. It is clear that there is considerable interest in how the park might be managed and developed in future and the ideas put forward will help the Trust decide what to do with the site.

The results of the consultation demonstrated that there is real support for the park in North Berwick; it is seen as a very positive addition to the town and people are generally happy with the way it is being managed. Many people use the park regularly and recognize it as being important for their wellbeing, especially true during lockdown.

Some people were unaware of the park before this consultation and thought there should be greater awareness in the town about its presence.  However, raising its profile would increase visitors which could impact on traffic and parking as well as result in the need for more facilities. These considerations will influence how the park is promoted.

The overwhelming preference was that the park be kept as natural as possible. Of those that supported any new activities, the clear majority thought they should be community focused and done sensitively with minimal impact on how people currently use the park, or on the landscape and wildlife features of the area. Walking and dog walking were seen as the most common uses and there were many comments made about the impact of dogs on wildlife and on other walkers. As a result, the Trust asks owners to please keep dogs under close control at all times and on a lead during the bird nesting season (in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and ELC’s policy).

Wheelchair and buggy accessibility were raised several times as an issue, as well as the need for more footpaths and cycle paths in general. This was often connected with the need for more benches for people to sit showing that the park facilities need to be made more inclusive by improving accessibility. The current informal network of paths allows for the route of the paths to be changed easily in future as it becomes clear what else is needed. A common suggestion was to connect the park to other green spaces and link it with North Berwick Law, the John Muir Way and the town centre with new paths.

The Trust have taken into account the suggestions offered during the consultation process and will also need to take heed of any strictures laid down by East Lothian Council and/or Scottish Government. It is the Trust’s intention to maintain a natural environment in this area for informal recreation, particularly walking.

There are a variety of ways that volunteers will be able to get involved, including maintenance tasks, litter collection, planting hedges, monitoring and citizen science projects. There was also overall support for developing the park as an educational resource and providing more information for visitors. An important next step is to include the schools and local youth groups in the development of these ideas.

The consultation has shown that there is a huge amount of interest by the local community to get involved in the management of the park.

There will be a further public update on plans for North Berwick Trust’s park later this year.

Views across North Berwick Trust’s park

Community tree planting in 2021

Comments to the Trust’s Grants and Communications Officer, Catherine McCoy, via email [email protected]