Space to grow
Urban areas – complete with roads, schools, shops, businesses – and green spaces, in which nature thrives, have not traditionally developed in harmony. Usually, one crowds out the other. We live and work in one. We visit the other.
But a bold initiative is aiming to demonstrate that the two can evolve together – at the same time as regenerating areas which have experienced decline over the years.
The Glasgow and Clyde Valley (GCV) Green Network is a 25-year project, now in its stride, that will improve significantly the scale, quality and value of green space across the whole of the Glasgow metropolitan area. Ultimately, it could transform the living and working environment for nearly two million people and increase the competitiveness of the city region as a location for investment.
It will connect quality spaces from Greenock to Lanark and Cumbernauld to East Kilbride. It will also involve working with planners and housebuilders to integrate new development into the green network. Houses will have a low carbon footprint and the need for supporting infrastructure will be reduced, for example, by using permeable paving and roadside verges to manage surface water instead of having to lay pipes and install drains.
Green networks are a relatively new, but growing phenomenon with Sheffield and Birmingham embracing the concept of creating new and ecologically sensitive housing in interlinked green spaces. From an economic development perspective, the opportunity to build new homes in a sustainable way will provide much needed work for the construction industry.
The GCV Green Network Partnership’s ‘integrating green infrastructure’ approach makes the case for planners and developers to consider green infrastructure from the outset of the design process. The idea is to regard greenspace as one of the five pieces of infrastructure, along with transport, energy, water and waste, that are “integral to the delivery of a successful, healthy and vibrant place”.
“In Scotland, the Glasgow Clyde Valley region is destined to see significant urban expansion and regeneration over the next two decades,” said Max Hislop, programme manager for the GCV Green Network Partnership. “The development of new communities represents a major opportunity for the integration of green infrastructure at an early stage.”
Green infrastructure provides naturalised water management, useable open space, active travel routes and habitats for wildlife. Developers will also be required to contribute to the green space around developments, maintaining trees planted to improve drainage and creating paths to make the natural environment more accessible. Their input will complement the partnership’s major projects, including the creation of Scotland’s largest urban wildlife site, the proposed Seven Lochs Wetland Park.
In January, the Seven Lochs Partnership secured £256,000 of development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to complete detailed plans for the park this year. It is hoped this will lead to a £4.2m award from the HLF to support a £6.5m project to establish the Seven Lochs Wetland Park as a major new heritage park for Scotland.
The new park aims to promote health and wellbeing, protect and enhance biodiversity and contribute to environmental, economic and social integration. “One of the key steps is the restoration of Provan Hall in Easterhouse,” said Scott Ferguson, coordinator for the Seven Lochs project.
The 16th century Provan Hall will become one of several key ‘gateways’ into the extensive urban wetland park that will stretch from the edge of Glasgow into North Lanarkshire. The restored medieval buildings, a new visitor centre and associated amenities will provide a focal point for visitors to the improved parkland.
As well as Provan Hall, the proposed park includes the woodland walks of Drumpellier Country Park on the edge of Coatbridge, five local nature reserves, Iron-Age archaeological sites and a network of paths.
“It’s not something that you would associate with the area’s recent history. By creating this attraction, you bring people and jobs and sustainable development,” said Ferguson.
Right on the doorstep of communities in Easterhouse, Coatbridge and Gartcosh, and easily accessible by road and public transport to people from across central Scotland, the Seven Lochs Wetland Park will be ideally situated as a new visitor attraction.
“We want the park to attract a wide range of visitors,” he said. “With miles of trails to entice walkers and cyclists, picnic areas and natural play spaces to attract families and school groups, and wild spaces to attract wildlife enthusiasts the park will have something for everyone.”
The Gartloch-Gartcosh corridor has also been highlighted as an area for significant community growth and local development plans in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire identify the potential for 4300 new homes within the Seven Lochs Wetland Park area up to the year 2025.
“The Seven Lochs Wetland Park is a key mechanism to achieve this, whilst also creating a green network asset that will deliver multiple benefits for local communities and a unique visitor attraction for Scotland.
"People will have the natural environment on their doorstep. The lochs and wetlands of the Gartloch and Gartcosh area are one of Glasgow and Clyde Valley’s hidden treasures.”