|The Penny Project|
The effects of
IRON AND STEEL
The demand for Iron and steel increased the demand for fuel and raw materials (coal and
ore) which increased mining activities in the surrounding areas. A survey carried out in
1862 showed that up to 200 miners worked in five mines on or near "The Moss".
New houses were built at Thrashbush, Burnfoot, Mavisbank and Whinhall. The Woodbine Park
was used to accommodate part of the new housing estate of Whinhall (named after the local
manor house Whin Hall that was at the North end of what is now Wilson Street).
In 1984 the area was landscaped, embankments were lowered, paths were created or improved, bridges were built, disused quarries were filled. Some 16,000 trees and bushes were planted on the site of the Northburn Works (the remains of the steelworks were covered over to form a huge mound) and the former Ballochney Railway line which now forms part of the proposed long distance cycle path from Coatbridge (Summerlee) to Boness. The trees included: Alder, Larch, Wild Cherry (Gean), Hawthorn, Silver Birch, and Dog Rose.1994-1998
In 1994 a mining developer surveyed the area and applied for planning permission to carry out opencast mining, to scrape the top of "The Moss", extract the coal, consolidate the land and then build up to 600 houses. The developer negotiated options from the landowners.
Residents from Whinhall, Burnfoot and Mosside in Airdrie, Burnbank, Greenhill and Red Bridge in Coatbridge, got together to stave off the threat of losing "The Moss". They all agreed to develop an alternative plan to turn the area into a Community Park. The project was to be known as The Penny Project and the park was given the interim name Northburn Community Park.
Local residents lodged objections to the opencast and housing developments
and campaigned vigourously to retain "The Moss".
On February 1997 the developer appealed to the Scottish Office. A Public Enquiry was scheduled for late November 1997. The developer abandoned their appeal at the end of September 1997, thus clearing the way for the Project to plan and develop the Community Park. On 4th August 1998 the Planning Committee of North Lanarkshire Council gave the go-ahead by granting Outline Planning permission to develop the Park.
Leaend Farm c1930 from a sketch by the late Andrew MuirTree Planting
In the spring of 1997 the Penny Project, in partnership with the Central Scotland Countryside Trust (CSCT) and St Patricks High School planted some 200 young trees in the Leaend Glen. It was most encouraging to have so many young people turning up, despite such cold weather.
The proposed Community Park falls within the Airdrie Woodlands area. In May 1997, representatives of the Penny Project were invited by the CSCT to participate at the official launch of the Airdrie Woodlands initiative in the Caldervale High School in Airdrie. They joined other community groups and exhibited the story and pictures of the Penny Project. Later they were presented to HRH Princess Anne who showed quite an interest in the Penny Project.
As part of the ceremony, Princess Anne sent participants, from various organisations, off on a "woodland dash". This involved taking trees to plant at selected sites. The team from North Lanarkshire Council "dashed" to the Northburn Community Park and planted an oak tree at the Leaend Glen. Their theme was "Forests for Future Generations" and the team carried three infant members of the next generation in backpacks.
The proposed Park extends to over 150 acres of grassland, mixed with scrub, marsh, raised bog, woodlands and hedges. It provides a wide range of habitats varying from the natural to the man made.
Members of the Penny Project have identified a number of AIMS, which help to determine future policies and strategies. They have set out a brief prospectus to assist in the initiation of a Modular Development Strategy coupled with an implementation plan.
The Development Strategy will explore all the options for Park design and implementation; it's long term management and the funding requirements. It will examine ideas and projects to determine the practicality, the need, the benefits, the sustainability, the cost and the best possible sites. The strategy will also examine how the Park is to be administered the need for office and storage areas, any health and safety requirements and improvements in access. It will take cognisance of the existing wildlife habitats and the need to protect them. The completed strategy will form the basis of a Final Development Plan and implementation schedule. It is intended that the Park will be a place where people can co-exist with wildlife.
Projects being considered include: Theme Areas e.g. Butterfly Garden, Miners Memorial Garden, Recycling Centre, Garden Nursery, Industrial Heritage Centre, Visitor Centre, Urban Farm, Wildflower Meadows, Safe Play areas....
The story continues...........
A brief look at main salient events:
1. In 1984 the SDA, in partnership with Monklands District Council, carried out major landscaping works and successfully recovered the area from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution. They restored the area into a very attractive Greenbelt site.
2. In 1997 Northburn Community Park Development Committee objected strongly to the Planning Application by Banks & Co, who wished to carry out Opencast Mining followed by a Housing development.
3. In 1997 an Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out by a Landscape Conservation consultant and presented as part of our objection. Our objection was also supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Central Scotland Countryside Trust, and Scottish Wildlife Trust.
4. In 1997, Banks & Co were refused planning permission for Opencast Mining and Housing, on the grounds that the area was zoned as Greenbelt.
5. In September 1997 Banks withdrew a planning appeal to the Scottish Office and cited the Scottish Natural Heritages stance against housing in the area.
6. On 4th August 1998 Northburn Community Park was granted outline Planning permission to develop the area as a Community Area and Recreation Park.
7. In 1999 CSCT carried out tree and wildflower planting works with the involvement of a local school, in co-operation with the Northburn Community Park Development Committee.
8. In 1999 Central Scotland Countryside Trust completed a major landscaping project funded by the Forestry Commission (Woodlands Improvement Grant estimated value 60,000+). This included tree thinning, planting up thickets, footpath construction, scrub cutting, removal of 4,000 meters of dilapidated fencing, and 2,500 trees planted to enrich felled coups. Footpath works involved clearance and preparation for completion by NLC. The CSCT are continuing a 4 year maintenance plan until 2004.
9. A Capital allowance of 30,000 was made available by North Lanarkshire Council during 1998-99 and Landscape Services drew up a plan of infrastructure improvements and upgrades. Much of this work was carried out during 2000/2001. This included: Re-surfacing on most important paths, Landscaping of entrances, Landscaping/resurfacing at Hammerhead entrance (Northburn Road), Drainage works, Alteration to Miners Memorial, Fencing repairs, New planting at potentially dangerous banking, Initial feasibility study (desk exercise) into pond creation.
10. On 21st February 2002 we were granted Full Planning Permission to develop the area as a Community Area and Recreation Park.