Having campaigned for years to save a piece of wild Glasgow wasteland from being built on, Emily Cutts is delighted to see construction begin on the site this week.

The mum of two became the figurehead of a grassroots pressure group which successfully mobilised to save disused football pitches and tennis courts in Maryhill from being developed into flats.

Yet this week, a creative team from the National Theatre of Scotland have constructed a complex structure on the three acre site off Queen Margaret Drive in the city’s west end.

And Emily couldn’t be happier.

“It feels like we have come full circle now,” she said. “People are celebrating the space and even the council are being nice to us.”

For nine years, Emily was a driving force in a dynamic community movement which sought to ensure the overgrown courts and pitches were preserved as an urban wild space.

The playfields were established in the 1930s, eventually falling out of use 60 years later. Slowly reclaimed by nature, they were gradually adopted by the community around Maryhill and North Kelvinside as an ad-hoc woodland surrounded by tenements.

Community connection grew as red blaise gave way to nature, with harvest festivals, bonfires, outdoor cinema, reindeer visits, Halloween light shows and choir performances taking place on the site. Bats, orchids and butterflies pointed to a rich ecosystem, and children enjoyed a natural play environment.

But in 2012 the land came under the scope of builders New City Vision in response to a 2009 council consultation process on the plot’s future.

Locals mounted a robust resistance which eventually saw the case called in by the Scottish Government for investigation.

In late 2016, the Scottish Reporter found in favour of the meadow ruling that no building was permitted on the site.

Until now. This week, setmakers from the National Theatre of Scotland have assembled a rangey structure for a new production based on a book written by an autistic Japanese teenager.

The Reason I Jump has been adapted from the book of the same name, and will be performed by a cast of actors with autism for two weeks from next Monday.

Emily said: “I couldn’t imagine this happening back then. I knew this place was important for people, and that some parents brought their children here because it was the only place some autistic children would come and play because it was wild, and not structured.

“We always hoped that people would use the space in more creative ways. But the idea that the National Theatre of Scotland would be here would have been radical.”

Since winning their David v Goliath tussle, the North Kelvin Meadow and Children’s Wood has established regular groups including a Five Ways To Wellbeing project for people with mental ill-health, as well as facilitating forest skills classes for schools and nurseries.

Five part time members of staff are in place, and locals youths have been engaged to take care of plants.

But the current synergy of natural and creative expression is the most precise representation of the vision campaigners had for the land.

Emily said: “The message in this play is highlighting something really important for people in every community, that restrictions on opportunities to be outside and play outside impact on mental health, and that includes people with autism.”

For director Graham Eatough, the Meadow was the obvious choice once the project began its two-year development at NTS.

He said: “One of the main themes in the book is about Naoki’s powerful relationship with nature. In a world he finds difficult to interact with, the natural environment is affirming for him.

“As we were working with autistic actors, we realised they also felt nature was a place of respite, rejuvenation and positivity. So we decided to set the show outdoors, and started working with the people here.

“It’s a brilliant coming together with a place which already had that philosophy for a theatre show which is telling people a story about that relationship with nature.”

The cast of children and adults are all on the autistic spectrum, with pupils from Glasgow’s Abercorn School, the Isobel Mair School in Renfrewshire, and Edinburgh’s St Crispin’s. Like the author of the book, some of the performers are non-verbal.

The set comprises a wooden maze and a central labyrinth built from old cobblestones reclaimed from a Maryhill street. The maze will be dismantled, but the labyrinth will become a permanent part of the wood.

Actor Nicky Tuxworth, 28, from West Calder, has Asperger’s. A gold medal winner in judo and bowls at the special olympics, she is incorporating elements of her sporting background into her performance.

She said: “It’s humbling for us to take parts of Naoki’s book and add our own individual experiences. I love working outside, rather than being confined to a darkened stage because it brings out a lot more skills. It’s such a release to be around nature. It makes you feel really connected.

“And as well as the audience getting that from it, I hope they get a better understanding of the different types of autism, and special needs, that some people have. We hope this opens more eyes and hearts to the idea that being different isn’t a bad thing.”

Emily added: “Some people thought it was all about the campaign. But we can do so much more. It was always about alternative ways of thinking for a community.”