Scotland has one of the most unequal land distributions in the Global North with 50% of the land owned by just 432 individuals. It is hard to overstate how important land ownership is in creating more sustainable and just communities. Happily land reform has been receiving some long needed attention over the past couple of years and looks set to continue. Organisations and grassroots groups promoting and fighting for community land ownership have been at the forefront of getting land reform on the agenda.
Land reform often calls up images of the Western isles, or the highlands but urban land ownership is a critical piece of the puzzle as well. Anyone following debates over land use here in Edinburgh will quickly recognise the tension between developers playing the luxury real estate game and the need for true affordable housing and development that contributes to the community’s broader needs.
The choice between development for the benefit of a very few individuals and the coffers of development corporations is being played out in one of Edinburgh’s oldest surviving walled gardens. The community groups Friends of Granton Castle Walled Garden are fighting to restore the garden and develop it as a community asset having fought all last year to gain access to the space. Over the coming months I’ll be documenting the group as they bring parts of the garden back to life, demonstrating the enormous potential for the space and fighting for community over private luxury.