Completed GI work showing a deculverted burn in Middlefield, Aberdeen

Return of the burn

The JCBs have gone, the hard hats have been hung up for the last time. The temporary fencing moved on to another site. In their place the graceful curves of a revamped public space.  With stunning play areas, a sweeping burn, rich wildflower meadows, and a network of newly created paths no wonder the Middlefield regeneration project in Aberdeen is proving popular.

We often use the phrase ‘transformation’ when talking about green infrastructure projects. It’s inevitable. And never more so than when the changes are as substantial as at Middlefield.

As we reported in our blog early last year change in the Middlefield Greenspace in Aberdeen was long overdue. Not long after World War Two had ended the Scatter Burn was covered and an area of amenity grasslands laid out. The potential of a lovely rolling site was swallowed up by a drive to make for easy management.

Now the needs and demands have moved on.  Back in 1947 it would have been unlikely that a move to create a flood alleviation scheme would have been uppermost in the planning route. Times change, and today the redevelopment of Middlefield looks to deliver much more than a functional improvement. Mitigating against flood risk was high on the list of improvements, although the Scatter Burn does make room for stepping stones. For nature there is inclusion of wetlands and meadows.  These environmental improvements has one constant – they were designed to appeal to both nature and people.

There is a real sense of achievement at Middlefield today. The works are settling and the residents of nearby Heathryfold are using the paths that link their homes with the Community Hub and transport links in increasing numbers.

Arguably the most visible changes are in the opportunities for outdoor play.  A rather tired looking play area has been replaced with a brand new arrangement where challenges and excitement harness the natural contours of the site and offer a dynamic play experience.

Delivering a high-quality outdoor recreational space, into the very heart of this community, breathes new life into an area that had so much potential. And younger children haven’t been forgotten by any means, an area with floral and musical play elements has been set next to a picnic area.  Add the provision of a small woodland area and an area for dog walkers and it seems there is something for everyone.

There are moves across Europe to make sure that active travel is made much for feasible. In Aberdeen Sustrans have risen to that challenge and have been involved in the design of 10 different projects – one of which was to help with the addition of cycle paths in the Middlefield development.

With the new housing in the Manor Walk area all but complete the site here has a vibrant, youthful feel to it. We will head back to Middlefield throughout 2020 to admire and photograph the progress of the site – in fact you could say we have a burning desire to return.