Hallside Heritage Park: Throughout March we will be looking at a number of community based projects. Here we hear about a project to create a greenspace for the community at the former site of Hallside Steelworks, Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire.
Describe your project – What are you trying to achieve?
Hallside Heritage Park was previously the site of Hallside Steelworks. Located to the south of Newton Train station the site is easily accessible from much of Central Scotland’s urban belt. With the demise of manufacturing in the 1970s and 80s, the works fell the way of many at the time leaving a site that was not only an eyesore but heavily contaminated.
In the early nineties steps were taken to remediate the site by importing top soil, earthworms and planting several hundred thousand willow, alder and pine saplings; the aim being to manage the site as a commercial biofuel resource, however these plans never came to fruition.
The site was being informally accessed by local people and Drumsagard Village Residents Association(DVRA)became involved and managed to get approval to construct footpaths through the site to improve access and to open the site to attract more people.
The group is trying to bring this space back into use as a greenspace that provides community benefit, improves the aesthetics of the site, provides a space for events, an opportunity for skills and knowledge sharing, provides an opportunity for increased personal and group physical health and wellbeing activity and offers opportunities for quiet reflection. The group also wants to recognise the site and its steelworks heritage by providing examples throughout the park.
How did you get started?
Through the Drumsagard Residents Village Association and Trust and the local Halfway Community Council (which covers all of Cambuslang East), a series of public meetings were hosted at the local Particip8 Community Hub in Halfway and from this a group was formed to further the develop the site as a community greenspace.
DVRA were able to identify funding to employ a Landscape Design consultant to carry out a feasibility study into the possible future uses of the 33 acre site which could include a mixture of wildlife conservation, active and passive recreational use, and educational use for the surrounding community. Within the feasibility study a full site survey is being carried out including community consultation to develop design proposals for the site.
Who was involved in making the project happen and how was the community involved?
How have you been able to raise funds?
In terms of the project we are at a relatively early stage of the journey and there is much to be done. So far we have a drawn a steering group together from the local community with support being pledged from local schools, elected members and practical advice provided by the nearby Holmhills Community Woodland group. The support of Halfway Community Council and the logistical and financial support for the feasibility study, generously provided by DVRA have been valuable in allowing the project to start on its journey. Funding streams are being identified to ensure a few quick wins can continue and increase the current momentum.
What were the biggest lessons learned so far?
As we are at the start of our journey there hasn’t been too many big lessons to be learned so far however keeping interest and engaging with communities can uncover and enhance existing skills within the group. Getting out there, networking and sharing stories and having conversations with others can create opportunities and improve learning for all involved. We have had wider press coverage of the project in the local paper (Reformer) and have just released a further press statement to make local residents aware. There will now be regular press coverage of this project. We are also regularly using social media platform Facebook to actively promote the project and encourage community involvement. We now have further information and a regular update in both the Drumsagard Village Resident Association Website and the Halfway Community Council web page.
What advice would you give people who wished to become active within their communities?
- Ask yourself why you want to become involved?
- Identify what you can bring to the table.
- Can you commit your time and skills?
- Recognise the importance of active listening
- Be ready to compromise
- Be ready to learn from reflection
- Stay focused.
- Do it
- Enjoy yourself.
What are your next steps?
Upon competition of the feasibility study and community engagement the logical steps would be to put the group on a proper footing which would include:-
- Establishing a constitution for the group.
- Develop the group’s identity/ legal standing
- Identify roles and responsibilities in the group.
- Arrange a bank account.
- Identify work streams.
- Develop sub groups to address specific work streams.
- Introduce project management methodology to the work streams to ensure focus and a mechanism to review progress
- Get to work