Background

Since 2005, Glasgow City Council (GCC) has been working with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and Scottish Government establishing a new approach to the regeneration of eight key areas of the City, known as Transformational Regeneration Areas (TRAs). In the North of the City Sighthill is the largest and probably most challenging of these programmes.

With initial impetus from the bid for Glasgow to host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, a regeneration masterplan was developed during 2013. Although the bid was unsuccessful the Council retained and developed the project and a planning application was made in 2014.

The masterplan features 50 Ha of mixed use land which will include almost 800 new homes, a new community campus building that includes a school, nursery, youth centre and community sports halls, commercial retail accommodation, community facilities and new infrastructure including serviced development plots and a revitalised park. The works will cost in excess of £250m and is being funded by the Council and Scottish Government, also Sighthill is one of the early action areas to benefit from a £1bn plus City Deals programme.

Vision

The masterplan recognised that, in terms of access, the site is tightly constrained to the South by the M8, the Glasgow/Edinburgh railway line and a section of canal to the West, Springburn Road to the East and Sighthill cemetery to the North. The site also suffers from heavily polluted soil and unbalanced storm water management infrastructure. Local residents also face severe social and economic issues, many are asylum seekers and in general the area suffers from a poor reputation.

Although the area has a multitude of issues, the masterplan is an attempt to tackle problems head on, turn negatives into positives and deliver a sustainable solution which maximises its potential.

The delivery of appropriate green infrastructure is at the very heart of the new vision. For example, the masterplan retains as much of the existing natural assets as possible. Despite additional expense and logistic issues, features such as woodland, rocky outcrops and varied topographic levels, have been incorporated into the plan. Another example is the new Sighthill Park, a unique, attractive green spine which flows through the development which facilitates active travel and creates recreational and social opportunities.

In this manner the local environment and green infrastructure will help to create a desirable and sustainable residential space and through this help to activate market interest.

Outputs and Outcomes

As befits any proposal of this scale and nature, the regeneration masterplan focuses on a huge variety of designs including the layout of over 650 mixed tenure homes, the location of a new community campus school with sport provision and areas suitable for commercial facilities. Obviously, not all of these are immediately relevant to the delivery of the CSGN, however, we can highlight some aspects of the masterplan which are of great interest.

Providing high quality greenspace for people to use is a core element of the masterplan and the provision of space for community growing is an expression of this. It not only gives people an opportunity for healthy exercise as they grow their own produce, but it also provides a venue in which people can meet, interact and develop community bonds. The fact that a community allotment facility is to be installed ahead of schedule is a testament to the strong ‘green’ credentials of Sighthill.

An intention of the plan is to avoid traditional barriers between spaces with different functions. This improves access and movement of people – particularly pedestrians. A good example of this is the integration of the development into the existing cemetery to the North of the site by removing walls and fences. Also, a new pedestrian bridge will link Sighthill with the nearby city-centre. This is part of a carefully considered network of paths and roads throughout the development which promotes active travel and sustainable transport and reduces the reliance on cars in order to access basic services.

Sighthill will also play its part in the mitigation of some of the more dramatic effects of climate change within the Glasgow area. In particular, during times of extreme rainfall, storm water is managed by a series of SUDs vegetated ponds which also improve the biodiversity value of the site, enhance its visual appeal as well as being used for activities such as pond dipping.

Early Achievements

Delivery of the masterplan is clearly a huge undertaking and it has been broken down into phases. In 2014 a local artist team was appointed to work with the community to determine if there was an appetite and desire for community based art. The artists engaged across the entire community meeting with the residents, schools, church groups, youth groups etc and developed a community led proposal which aims to create a communal planting, growing and playing space that will be repositioned to accommodate the extensive remediation works. The temporary garden will ultimately become a permanent fixture as the community garden adjacent to the new campus at the heart of Sighthill.

Challenges

The masterplan favours retaining existing trees, vegetation and rock features which adds to the complexity of on the ground delivery. Despite this, the message of the masterplan is clear and whilst there is scope for flexibility, the developers and construction teams must safeguard Sighthill’s greenspace, accepting the extra time and costs which this involves.

Another issue is the maintenance of the varied environments, including play areas, the SUDs system and public spaces. The designs are innovative and maintenance contractors need to be sourced which appreciate its complex nature and commit to nurturing and caring for it.

Next Steps

Works began on site early 2016 beginning with extensive works to stabilise the ground conditions and remediate the contamination to ensure the ground is suitable for the construction and delivery of the new roads, park and homes. Funding for the mobile community garden has been secured and GCC are working with the community group to determine the location of the first site.


December 2016 update

Early contracts are progressing well. Remediation works to clean the contaminated ground to allow the new park and housing platforms being created is well underway and should be completed in spring 2017. This is the first significant stage of the project and the extensive groundworks are visible on site.

A contractor has now been appointed to deliver the new Sighthill Park and infrastructure works. Detailed designs are progressing to create the new park, roads and development platforms commencing in spring 2017. Procurement for the commercial development teams is also well underway and we’re in dialogue with three selected bidders. Once one is appointed we’ll be starting to see the new homes, retail and commercial buildings progressing through the early design stages.

We’re working closely with the design team appointed to create the new pedestrian bridge over the M8 motorway that links Sighthill to Kyle St / North Hanover St and creates a new civic landscape at the south landing which is a key gateway between Sighthill and the city centre.

We’ve also been working with the existing community at Fountainwell in the north of the Sighthill masterplan. We’ve created a small temporary growing space within their neighbourhood. A new much needed play space will be provided next to KATS once advance groundworks have been completed in the next couple of months.

We would suggest visiting the Sighthill project page here to find out more information on other parts of the project, including the Education Campus. There are a series of videos, updates and newsletters that show how things are progressing.