Transforming ‘problem’ sites into useable community spaces

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

‘Stalled Spaces’ are areas that have been cleared for development or regeneration but where building has been halted in the face of economic difficulties. These spaces have the potential to attract anti-social behaviour. Glasgow has taken an innovative approach to promote the installation of temporary landscaping on vacant sites, which it believes will benefit not only the 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.”

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

Another on-going project in Scotland is taking place in Stirling’s Raploch housing estate. The ‘Green Arena’ initiative was kick-started by the Raploch Urban Regeneration Company (URC) and A&DS in 2009. The project is establishing temporary landscapes between demolition and construction phases. These temporary spaces are allowing the community to test and explore a range of public life and outdoor opportunities through ecology, public art and community participation.

The first event at the Green Arena took place on 22 April, adding to the celebrations of Earth Day. A three-screen projection showed footage documenting the rich history of the local area, portraits of local people and images of the area as it could be in the future set against those of 100 years ago. The success of the event has led to plans for the Arena to become Scotland’s first outdoor community cinema.

Deryck Irving of Greenspace Scotland, who last year produced a report on stalled spaces, recognises the importance of projects such as those at Raploch and St John Ogilvie Church in terms of the legacy they can help to shape “The idea is that anything which has worked well in this Green Arena could be put into the park at the end of the day and it will then become a permanent space rather than a temporary one.

Headline image: The outdoor cinema at the Green Arena, Raploch (Stirling).

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