Celebrations were held in Kirkwall as a new £670,000 community park and event space was officially unveiled.
Credit: Orkney Islands Council
On 21 April 2023, the Kirkwall community came together to celebrate the official opening of Papdale Park.
The park is located in a residential area to the east of the town.
It's made up of a network of paths and modern landscaping initiatives which have transformed the space for the better.
Key features include a deculverted burn, an array of walking, wheeling, and cycling routes, as well as native shrubs and trees and a wildflower meadow for enhanced biodiversity.
A community plaza and new road crossing which links the park to Kirkwall Grammar School have also been created to ensure trips are as safe and accessible as possible.
Papdale Park has provided local people with a new greenspace to enjoy. Credit: Sustrans
A community vision
Plans for Papdale Park originated from a series of engagement sessions held in 2018, delivered by Orkney Islands Council as part of the Your Kirkwall Place Plan.
During these sessions, local community group Papdale East Play Association (PEPA) brought forward a range of ideas on how to improve the existing but dilapidated play park.
The Council’s Play Area Strategy also identified Papdale East as an area where opportunities for play were in need of improvement.
On these foundations, plans were drawn up with regular community feedback to ensure that the best design possible was produced.
The resulting blueprints laid out an ambitious vision for a new greenspace for people of all ages to enjoy, smartly futureproofed against the impacts of climate change, changing technology, and an anticipated rise in active travel.
Local residents and project partner representatives turned out on the day of the official opening to see the ribbon cutting. Credit: Orkney Photography
A memorable occasion
Despite being informally open since the end of last year, local Orcadians turned out in good number to see the ribbon cutting and Papdale Park officially opened.
A series of speeches and guided ecology walks were available to those in attendance.
Free cycle servicing and an e-bike display were also provided.
PEPA, who were instrumental in the design and engagement of the Papdale Park project, were also on hand to provide refreshments, a bake sale and a treasure hunt.
Karen McGregor, Scotland Director at Sustrans, was delighted with the collective effort that went into making the park possible, saying:
"Papdale Park is a project designed by and for the local community, which is what underpins its success.
"At every step and pedal of the way, we engaged closely with residents to find out what they wanted and how they wanted it.
"We are grateful for all the input received and look forward to seeing work continue to ensure Papdale Park remains a much-loved local landmark for generations to come."
The ribbon itself was cut by Orkney Islands Council Convener Graham Bevan.
Flanked by pupils attending from Papdale Primary School, he said:
"It is an honour to be asked to perform the official opening of this new, much improved community park space within Kirkwall which is for everyone to enjoy.
“It is so important to retain green spaces within our towns as we all know how important getting outdoors, enjoying some fresh air, exercise, greenery and wildlife is to our physical and mental wellbeing.”
Papdale Park marks the third major project to be delivered on Orkney in quick succession through Places for Everyone. Credit: Orkney Islands Council, 2022.
Building on success
Papdale Park marks the third major project to be delivered on Orkney in quick succession through Places for Everyone.
The Places and Spaces project helped deliver key street layout changes to make getting in and around Kirkwall town centre easier and safer.
Sustrans also worked closely with Orkney Island Council to complete the development of Arcadia Park, which provides an attractive path network and landscaped link to Balfour Hospital in the south of Kirkwall.
£670,000 was allocated for the Papdale Park project, provided by Orkney Islands Council, NatureScot’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund and Places for Everyone, an active travel infrastructure programme funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Sustrans.
Additional funding for the project came from a Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes grant allocation and the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund.
Design work was funded by HITRANS.
Papdale Park is another success story for active travel opportunities in Kirkwall, and has already become a cherished community asset.
With this celebration marking the completion of the first phase of the project, further excitement awaits.
Once funding is secured through Places for Everyone for the second phase of work, plans can begin to take shape for the creation of an all-ages-and-abilities play park for local residents to enjoy.