Glasgow stalled Spaces

Communities helped to breathe new life into Glasgow stalled spaces

Communities across Glasgow are benefiting from a small grants programme to help them temporarily take on and breathe new life into sites which are currently stalled or unused.

Glasgow City Council, in partnership with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), has announced the first 21 projects to be given support up to the value of £2500 each as part of the Community Support for Stalled Spaces initiative.

By promoting the installation of temporary landscaping on vacant sites, Glasgow has taken an innovative approach which it believes will bring benefits not only local people and neighbourhoods but to developers and land owners as well.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "Sites in our city which lie empty and unused can depress people and neighbourhoods. We believe that stalled spaces should be an asset in their local community not a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

"Glasgow's innovative approach will assist communities, land owners and developers to gain maximum benefit from a stalled construction site or land which owners haven't been able to sell or develop in the face of the current economic difficulties.

"Although the grants are small, we believe that it will make a great difference to help a community kick start activity on a site to give it back a purpose for all local people to enjoy.??

Alex McGuire, GHA's Executive Director of Development and Regeneration, said: "We are always looking for ways which we can improve our neighbourhoods and make them a better place to live for our tenants and factored homeowners.

"We're delighted to be working in partnership with Glasgow City Council to support these community led projects which address local priorities and which complement the investment which we are making throughout the city.??

Anecdotal evidence from discussions with private sector developers indicates that the current economic difficulties and reduced levels of demand have led to an increase in the amount of land that is 'banked' for future development and of land which has been cleared for development or regeneration but where building will not take place until there is a stronger economic recovery.

These stalled spaces have the potential to become problem areas which could be used for anti-social behaviour. Temporary landscaping of vacant, disused sites is a tried and tested method, which can bring environmental, social and economic benefits to both the land owners and land users.

From the outset under this scheme, it has been established by all parties through a lease agreement that the project is of a temporary nature and the site would have a permanent use long term.

By having a lease agreement in place it overcomes many of the obstacles in getting stalled spaces given over to community use. Chief among them is fears that once these spaces become community greenspaces it will be difficult to return to development or concerns that financial or legal liability will fall on site owners.

When the site is handed back to the owner it is not envisaged that it will be end of a project. With so much momentum being built by residents, community groups and individuals, showing huge commitment to their area it is clear that the project could be replicated at another location.

Glasgow City Council will explore with all stakeholders other possible sites within the locality to transfer projects and ensure their successful continuation.

The council also unveiled today details of the latest inspirational examples of a site recently given over for temporary community use.

In Easterhouse, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow has entered into temporary lease with Beechwood Nursery on the site of the former St John Ogilvie Church.

The site was earmarked for development but due to the economic downturn it has remain vacant. The Archdiocese of Glasgow, from the outset, saw the benefit of the project and was happy to allow access to the site and sign a temporary lease with the nursery until such times as the site can be sold on for development.

The nursery is using the site as part of the forest school initiative, Curriculum for Excellence and general environmental education.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said: "We are delighted to work with the City Council to support this innovative project. The site of the former St John Ogilvie church is now - thanks to the stalled spaces scheme - at the service of the community once more.

"We have been very happy to put the space - which is not immediately needed - at the disposal of the organisers and the youngsters in the area seem to be enjoying the access which the scheme allows."