Waterfront Regeneration Knowledge Exchange #1 – Glasgow

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Environmental Concerns in Waterfront Development

Scottish Universities Insight Institute

The Lighthouse, Glasgow – Monday 27 October 2014

The Knowledge Exchange programme brings together practitioners, policy makers and academics involved with waterfront regeneration in three of Scotland’s cities which account for a substantial part of overall urban regeneration activity currently under way in Scotland, and have the potential to make a huge impact on Scotland’s future economic and social development. These three initiatives are evolving in parallel, developing their own independent approaches to city-building and to shaping the new places where people will live and work.

Through sharing experiences, the programme aims to contribute to the future development of the waterfront areas directly involved in the programme as well as other waterfront regeneration processes emerging in Scotland. In addition, it aims to guide a debate over issues surrounding economic, social and environmental aspects of regeneration activities in the country, in order to inform policy development and implementation.

The programme includes 4 workshops over 6 months, each exploring an aspect of development from each city (and including a field trip), with a final workshop providing the opportunity to draw together conclusions and identify next steps for an ongoing knowledge exchange network of policy-makers, practitioners and academics.

This note provides a summary of the first seminar in the series on Glasgow which took place at The Lighthouse, in Glasgow on Monday 27 October 2014. More information is included in the attached summary note.

Michael Ward, Glasgow City Council, provided an introduction to Glasgow’s waterfront regeneration centred on four areas: Clyde Waterfront, City Centre (e.g. new Financial District), and Clyde Gateway (e.g. Commonwealth Games, Athlete’s Village) and the canal. The city is proud of recent change, and seeks to transform and build upon the city’s strengths by putting people and place at the heart of the story; supporting key growth sectors, and ensuring inclusion and connections. The challenge is to bring the river into more active use, overcome barriers, and ensure better connectivity.

Richard Millar, Scottish Canals, described how the 70 miles of waterway provide 140 miles of waterfront opportunities. The canals originated 1768-1820s but challenges from the railways and motorways led to the abandonment of the canals in the 1960s. By 1990s there was belief that they could come back to life to support communities. Projects such as the Falkirk Wheel and the more recent Kelpies/Helix projects are visitor attractions providing local employment and supporting the local economy. Canal regeneration projects help to bring uplift in adjacent land and property values; work with local social enterprise to transform existing run down assets (e.g. heritage buildings); provide linear parks; act as a catalyst to bring new life to areas; benchmark quality for new development; work with assets to create identity.

A field trip study tour took participants to visit Port Dundas (from the Pinkston Water Sports centre to The Whisky Bond) and Govan.

Daniel Skog, City of Malmo, described how Malmo’s main employer, the shipyard, had gone from prosperous low unemployment in the 1960s to decline in the 1970/80s; by 1986 the shipyard had closed. The city bought the entire western harbour and invested in the land which was then sold on in small packages to developers to ensure diversity.

Leadership was provided by the Mayor (a former architect). A new landmark building signifies the debate about the future of the area. Six storey perimeter blocks shelter the interior of the site from the exposed winds and ensure a good micro climate. 100% renewable energy is produced and stored on site. The city co-operates with developers in a positive way to create common development goals.

The ocean wall is a popular spot for Malmo people; a place where people from all parts of the city come to mix and enjoy. Unexpected things have happened: people started to swim in the sea; instead of stopping this, the city has facilitated this by employing lifeguards and providing steps and ladders down to the water level. The area has become a destination.

Justin Abbott, Arup, gave a presentation on water sensitive urban design and noted there are significant global drivers for thinking about water. He spoke about ‘water management as a source of civic pride…’; a starting point for bringing together multiple interests; where lots of small interventions can offer better alternatives to one heavily engineered solution, and adaptive interventions ensure a ‘no regrets’ approach which allows for future variation. Water influences urban form and there is a need to reconnect people with water. Various international case studies showed how it is possible to see projects in terms of wider catchment areas with the potential to deliver more than just the project.

A subsequent group discussion reflected on lessons from the site visits and presentations to identify factors contributing to environmentally sustainable waterfront regeneration in Scotland under three areas: a] resources, b] rules and organisations and c] ideas and mindsets.

The next seminar will take place in Dundee on Monday 1 December. For more information refer to http://www.scottishinsight.ac.uk/Programmes/Programmes20142015/WaterfrontRegeneration.aspx or contact Dr Soledad Garcia Ferrari (University of Edinburgh) or Dr Harry Smith (Heriot Watt University).

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