We were pleased to welcome Deryck Irving (programmes and partnership manager at greenspace Scotland) to speak at the Place-keeping conference 2014. He has recently worked on programmes relating to the role of greenspace and green infrastructure in tackling climate change; greenspace, health and wellbeing; community growing and the potential for stalled development sites to become community spaces. Deryck coordinates greenspace scotland’s placemaking programme – working with communities and their wider partners to collectively engance quality of place and to create more sustainable communities, often with a strong element of community stewardship of public spaces.
Deryck talked about different examples of place-keeping in Scotland, including a park in Aberdeen with a very highly motivated community group who had no problem getting funding, but suffered from problems of group fragmentation. Other parks had strengths such as enjoying central and strategic locations but experienced the challenge of poorly coordinated communication by local authorities to attract visitors. Some key messages that Deryck shared from these examples of place-keeping included the need to get the strategic thinking right, tell the local people about it and get it implemented locally. Deryck also outlined how systems (e.g. organisational/ decision-making) can undermine capacity. There is clearly a need for apolitical organisations such as greenspace scotland to help act as a broker and mediator between public and community organisations and groups.