Dear Green Place

image001On my leg there’s a scar. It’s about two inches long, roughly the shape of a badly drawn F. It lives on the back of my right thigh. Sometimes I’ll unconsciously skim my fingers over it, feeling the inward dip of skin and the fibrous knot of patched up tissue at the other end, remembering how I earned it.
I’d been in the woods with the two Michaels, building an ambitious bi-level den in an accommodating old beech, with tools swiped from our collective sheds. It was largely constructed of old fencing, sofa cushions and a single mattress we’d dragged unquestioned with the paradoxical strength that imbues three 9-year-olds on a mission. Turns out council estate kerbside debris is precisely to the decorative taste of a pre-teen gang hut. I was arbitrarily wedging a bit of wood between two branches when I was gracefully ejected from the tree onto the hinge of an old kitchen cupboard door. It bled more than it hurt, and was patched up in secret so as not to provoke a parental intervention into our pressing construction activities.

When I think back to that time, I don’t linger on the scrapes or nettle rash, or even the dicky tummy from unfettered blackberry munching. I overwhelmingly remember being outside. I remember balmy summers that smelled of smoking barbecues and cut grass, fresh and drying in the sun. I was outside, playing with my friends. There was nothing better.

I overwhelmingly remembered being outside, because that was far better than inside. This is a reality for many children across Scotland.

There are few establishments that cause me as much outrage as Glasgow city council. After their unfathomable plan to go all Guy Fawkes on the Red Road Flats, I’m no longer surprised by their clownish missteps and continued social indelicacy. My ability to bridle expletives destined for my screen is continually tested by unsuspecting press releases. As municipal bodies go, they’re currently an easy top of my doing it wrong list.

Continuing with the theme of caricaturish villainy, the latest is a plan to sell off North Kelvin Meadow, cared for by The Children’s Wood – for developers to build a nimiety of luxury flats.

Just take a moment to ponder that sentence. I challenge anyone with even a semblance of a social conscience – or indeed a grasp of the English language – to miss what’s wrong with this picture.

To contextualise, the area in question is a thriving patch of land at the centre of an ownership tug-of-war for at least the last 20 years. Erroneously billed as a gap site on a planning application, there’s been an active desire to play down the green value to both wildlife and community. There’s been deliberate dismissal of over five hundred trees, wild flowers, grasses and animals. They’ve also erased the fourteen schools and nurseries that use this as an educational space. It’s a convenient rebrand for a developer keen on some prime, inner-city real estate.

But this a bit of Glasgow. No one is under any illusions here. It’s not the land of milk and honey. It’s not even the land of plain breid. It’s a city of tenements and industry, not woods and wildlife. This small patch doesn’t live up to our butterfly flecked vision of twee pastorality, so there’s little point in getting our knickers in a fankle, right?

North Kelvin Meadow is a relatively wee piece of land, and something of an anomaly in its locale. Such a double indictment means it conveniently slips off the radar of those in power to actually do something. But it stands for something far bigger. If we let this slide, we will continue to live in a world where urban greenspace suffers at the beauty myth – if it’s not pretty, it doesn’t matter.

Never mind that these wee bits of grassy interlude provide a backdrop for real living. Or that they provide a space for adventure, in a city where a charity exists to teach kids how to play outside. Never mind that people are most likely to visit green spaces if they’re local, and taking this one away effectively amputates any possibility of wild space play for local urban children. Never mind that places like this help the Scottish Government realise its commitments to people and the environment.

It’s only a wee bit of disused land, eh?

Planners and decision makers need to stop being blinded by eloquent proposals and fat bank balances. You may not be able to pay the bills with memories of picnics, or walks, or dens, or an ugly carrot gleefully rooted up by local toddler, but riches come in the guise of so much more than money.

For most of us – even if you’ve never given it much thought – we know these truths. We know trees are good. We know that nature is important. We get that erasing wild spaces for man-made structures is bad. Yet we do this all the time. We allow this to happen all over and over again, to the point that it barely provokes a quizzical eyebrow. But this isn’t ours to buy or sell or destroy. As that famous quote says, we’re borrowing it all from our children.

This city’s cup does not runneth over with opportunity for the masses. The least you can do is take a moment to think about who really wins and who loses in this repellent game of land monopoly.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Gordon Matheson. You have a duty of care to the people of this city. You, and all those who have a hand in shaping the face of Glasgow’s future. I’ve got a few suggestions:
You could take a moment to apply a bit of emotional intelligence to decision-making. Maybe take 5 minutes out of your day to type ‘Glasgow’ into the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation map. Allow yourself to feel burn of guilt from a patchwork of inky-blue splodges painting your jurisdiction with the colours of the most deprived 5%. You could acknowledge the interconnectedness of inequality and opportunity. You could stop taking from the people who need most.

It’s far easier to ram your fingers 3cm deep into your skull, and hum a wee tune as you actively ignore your position of social responsibility. I’m asking you to brave taking them out, and listen to all the people you’re taking away from.

For the rest of us, we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this is unlikely to happen. So we have to be thrawn. And utterly indignant. And incensed until we tremble, and actually write that email and sign that petition. Because it’s our kids we’ll have to look in the eye as we explain why there’s no space for their kids to play, because we built those flats that are now worth three times the price that even they can’t afford to buy.

Comments (39)

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  1. steve luby says:

    I dont and have and have never recalled the over whelming sadness and loss I have felt when I discovered that a piece of land was to be built on,next to Elphinstone Crescent,in East Kilbride.
    I was born there.
    I grew up there.
    This land meant so much to local adults,children,pets and yes,wildlife.
    Yet,it was built on.
    It is a loss.
    Nothing has been improved locally for anyone to say ‘yes,it was worth it’.
    That is the point that we forget,the life we had as children is enriched by that physical freedom.
    Yet,we allow this theft.
    Not just of lands sake.
    But we allow the theft of the richness gained,that we ourselves grew up with,to be blocked,denied,for children,wildlife and us now, as consenting adults.
    We allow so much in our name,it scares me.

  2. Neil Anderson says:

    Utterly, utterly brilliant. When are the “City Fathers ” (I know. I know.) going to find that kernel of humanity that must, just MUST, still exist inside of them? That tiny vestige of their own childhood that ran and played and made themselves dizzy just spinning themselves around for no good reason other than fun? And laughed at the sun dazzling their eyes and the rain catching them wthoot a jacket oan? People of Glasgow and all Scotland! Save North Kelvin Meadow!

  3. John Mooney says:

    That pathetic poltroon Matheson will be too busy trying to turn the area into another car park for possible assignations,Allegedly,remember his attempt to ruin George Square,the sooner he is hounded from any position of political authority the better for the public weal.This creature is a montebank of the first order!

  4. colin says:

    We can’t have it both ways, our population has just grown by 500,000 whereas we built roughly 100,000 homes during that period.

    Where l live, the NIMBYs are out in force whenever someone submits plans for a garden shed.

    There are, by all account, a further 500,000 migrants waiting to wash upon our shores….do the maths.

    We can either have planned developments or we can watch helplessly while each city in this country has Soweto like shanty towns springing up around them.

    The days when we had open green spaces are well and truly over.

    1. Oh dear. Someone’s been reading the Daily Mail. This sounds about as stupid as Farage’s comment that traffic congestion is due to the immmigrants. Get a grip.

      1. colin says:

        What is stupid is not to plan for the extra homes we need/are going to need.

        1. IAB says:

          Well, I doubt the migrants you are so afraid of will be buying these flats or the people living in the area. People need green space and there is precious little of it left. Luxury flat builders can go buy land on the open market instead of it being handed to them by their council chums. If it was a plan for social housing, that might cause me to think about priorities but this is a no brainer.

        2. Graeme Purves says:

          Good planning recognises the importance of parks and open space. We have more than enough room in Scotland to house everyone well while making generous provision for public recreational space and green infrastructure.

    2. MCW says:

      Dear colin, either you don’t know that space, or you’re working for the developers. I’m fairly certain the west end of Glasgow isn’t about to welcome half a million migrants. And the site in question would do nothing but fart in the general direction of such a wind. The proposals you seem to be choosing to support would barely accommodate double figures in terms of residents, and would almost certainly provide a seven or eight digit top line for an entity which is concerned with nothing except profit.

      The objections to this development represent absolutely no kind of NIMBYism whatsoever – they are from those who directly benefit from the space, invest in it and with that investment make the neighbourhood and the city as a whole a richer, more diverse and generally better place to live.

      As for this – ‘The days when we had open green spaces are well and truly over.’ Well, tell that to the resident associations around the Meadows in Edinburgh, tell it to those who live around the edges of Hyde Park and Regents Park, and outside the cities tell it to the people who literally work themselves into the ground so you and I can put food on our table, and let’s see what they think of your vision for the future of Britain.

      And next time you’re in Glasgow, pop by the meadow. You might find some peace of mind there. Most do.

  5. sandy ritchie says:

    I agree with the comments above….I would add the same about building windfarms in the highlands and borders…

    1. What, we shouldnt build windfarms because of the immigrants?

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      I think Colin is suggesting that we should ignore the NIMBYs.

      1. sandy ritchie says:

        Ah…you mean ignore the opinions of local people…I get it now….

      2. colin says:

        Exactly correct. l live in East Lothian where 1,000 Affordable homes are in the pipeline…you would think the world was coming to an end, that scumbags on the minimum wage are going to be offered a home to live in….the fact that there is 7,500 desperate people on the council waiting list is by the by.

        The rabbits and foxes must be protected at all cost.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          I’m delighted to find you two in such full accord!

    3. sandy ritchie says:

      Lol…I really need to sort out who and how to reply when sticking my oar in. Nope immigrants weren’t in my mind re my comment…Can’t remember when immigrants were introduced to conversation… I really must pay attention…

  6. barakabe says:

    Although I despise the Labour Party & deeply dislike the very odd Mathieson I can see both sides of argument. From the point of view of the council there is the benefit of increased density- a completion of the urban fabric- & the rates that come with more people (mainly affluent people ) coming into the area. Another aspect of the debate is the Kelvin Walkway is literally 2 minutes walk from the area & the Botanics are 5 minutes or so- those who live there are hardly deprived of green space ( & it is particularly beautiful landscaped green space). On the other hand I can see the point of view of the current residents- they have grown to love this green space that in some senses is probably more ‘real’ & offers a touch of wild nature in contrast to the parklands nearby. If it was up to me ( & we had real devolution even down to the local level) I would leave the decision to a democratic vote of all those in the immediate area- unfortunately we have a top down system that isn’t even remotely democratic (& no doubt exacerbated by brown envelopes over plush dinners)- so no doubt the meadow will be built on.

  7. sheila says:

    this wee bit of land isn’t “disused”. It’s just disused in economic terms. In social and environmental terms it is used every moment of every day by every living thing that flits across it, shimmies through the weeds or merely knows there a piece of not-concrete that exists as a haven, even if you never go there yourself.

  8. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I lived in Peters Square Clydebank. It wasn’t a square, it was oval surrounded by prefab houses, but in the centre there was a piece of rough grass. That is where we played all day every day when not at school. We dug deep holes and covered them with old carpets to use as a den; we even made a chimney in it and lit fires until we were smoked out. We had the communal bonfire and barbeque on every year. It was the meeting place for all the inhabitants. The road round it was a race track for bicycles. Just outside the square was the Yoker burn where we found leeches and water voles; one brave soul even made a canoe and tried to sail it in there.

    The square has now gone and St Margaret’s Hospice is built on it. The burn has been enclosed in a pipe and is nowhere to be seen.

    Happy memories gone forever.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      In the development in West Edinburgh where I grew up MacTaggart & Mickel had left a number of unmanaged open spaces which were ideal places for building dens. I don’t think that would happen nowadays.

  9. Lesley says:

    I remember this piece of land as football pitches a long time ago when I lived nearby. Yes it is close to the Botanics but that is formal parkland which has a different emphasis than the more informal space provided by the Meadow. Will the Community Empowerment Bill strengthen the arguments of those who wish the Meadow to remain?

  10. Gordon Benton says:

    With Health and Safety ruling our lives, it is now hardly possible as bairns to enjoy the climbing of trees and guddling of trout under the banks of babbling burns. Like the writer, some of us lucky lads many decades later, bear the scars from trespassing barbed wire fences and other wonderful extra mural adventures.
    But in truth, these healthy and character-forming activities are difficult in urbanised environments.
    Whether it is the increasing urbanisation of our population, alleged immigration stress on our housing (with a net emigration problem in Scotland?), job availability and/ or because of better infrastructure giving a more comfortable living quality, play space in a carbon-absorbing, oxygen-giving environment is going to be harder and harder to retain.
    Perhaps the planning authorities in Scotland already are, in the interests of providing a better environment for our people, seriously looking into the dispersal of the populations of our larger conurbations into existing and new settlements (vide ‘New Urbanism’, ‘Edge Cities’).
    We are told there is a land shortage but with half of Scotland empty, this must surely be a possible solution. Under the new Land Reform legislation, it should now be possible to (compulsorily) acquire for instance settlements from which the original inhabitants were expelled. With Government and private sector investment, these will need to be infrastructured, homes built, with support where necessary for incoming settlers. Appropriate industries would be attracted to each settlement as part of the plan, which would initially attract the newcomers. Finance arrangements for the setting up of these developments need not be an onerous burden on Government.
    In this way, a safe and healthy lifestyle would be made available to tens of thousands of our homeless and underprivileged people. What we need is the dream, a sense of urgency and confidence in our mission, and the will to get this blot on our civilisation erased.
    And our children – as well as their parents, and grandparents – can improve their lives.
    It will suspect it needs a Holyrood push.

  11. C Rober says:

    What about the case I am currently trying to fight , using prime grazing land for housing , against directives , which has had planning denied in the past , yet somehow was included for development?

    This when there was policies and directives not to use farmland in the first place , including the Former First Minister pledging his intention to save dwindling farmland and Rural dev policy.

    Theres need and then there is profit , in my case the landowner , the developer and the council benefits more than the community . with the added impact on local services being the cost.

    Then there is a separate issue in using toxic land from the same council in a deprived area , and where the land was granted for affordable housing , the council left a loophole for developers to work around it on purpose , creating executive housing instead.

    We arent all nimby’s , but sometimes we should be.

    If giving a shit about schooling , extra long waiting times for a doctors appointment , council planning ignoring their own rules , or Hollyrood themselves ,thua favouring developers pockets over communities themselves… then yes I too am a NIMBY.

    1. colin says:

      l completely agree with you comment on developers, the rule is that 25% of proclaimed land should be set aside for affordable housing, yet developers are telling councils that they cant shift the private homes if there is any sniff of poorer people living in the area and sending their kids to the same schools as their kids.

      The truth is that if you cut the average councillor, they will bleed brown envelopes….one of the reasons there is such a shortage of social housing.

      The housing market is busted and will not normalise until people stop denying that it is so.

      1. C Rober says:

        The housing market is busted , of course it is , deliberately as supply and demand create HPI.

        How many acres has been cleared of Council housing in Scottish councils to create private housing developments , ordered by Westminster since the 80s , or is still 20 years later a wasteland of rubble and debris?

        Why has no one demanded that the money from RTB was returned to Councils , to make more houses and flats , and it was instead used to fuel the wealth of L.A.S.E.

        I dont know about brown envelopes.

        Supposedly the SNP in Majority at Hollyrood , always the complainer of such things about Labour led councils in the past in places like North Lanarkshire and Glasgow , prevented it for the future with the creation of the Local Development Plan for housing for Councils , whom were ordered to use Housing Need and Demand Surveys and other documentation for decision making.

        However I am questioning that process , in two places in North Ayrshire where the brown envelope may have been a factor , especially when SNP led council never directed the committee on policy over locations and then again rubber stamped it within Hollyrood despite its own directives , and importantly with the land historically being denied planning pre LDP or more sinisterly toxic for affordable housing.

        Choosing a separate 4 acres of grazing land , over 23-35 acres of urban land already available , where the housing was needed , where infrastructure is better , is less cost to the council taxpayer, is not what the LDP was intended for , no one simply asked any of these questions until now.

        The profit of the Landowner , the developer and the Council has superseded the community need and want , hardly what the SNP promise to the electorate with land reform and community empowerment , especially when it conflicts with their bottom line on housing promises too , by choosing which policy overrules another depending on how the wind blows that day.

  12. barakabe says:

    The only way dispersal of populations away from urban areas could ever be a good thing ( certainly from an environmental perspective) is if such dispersal comes with parallel transport infrastructure development ( & don’t mean more roads-car dependency). I would be more in favour of agglomeration into densified urban cores- Glasgow in particular has huge swathes of brownfield sites right on the doorstep of the city centre ripe for urban expansion; these are areas like Bellgrove, Cowlairs, Port Dundas, the Clydeside-Tradeston to name just a few where the infrastructure is already in place- Tradeston even has proximity to 3 tube stations. If we want to up our environmental credentials we need to get people back into these urban cores so they are no longer dependent upon the private car/a desert of suburban sprawl/& long carbon costly commutes to work/play.

  13. Gordon Benton says:

    Barakabe – of course brown field sites, already heavily infrastructures, should be a priority for development, and not just for housing of course.
    But my point is that today, in the world of social media, the development of Edge Cities or New or Rejuvenated (existing) Settlements should be considered as ADDITIONAL to brown site redevelopment. Half of Scotland is empty; arguably it ought not be all scheduled for ‘wild land’, as people do live there. The problem is that the infrastructure is virtually non-existent – in terms do services and utilities, as well as social facilities. Your concern for the need to accommodate such as large numbers of cars, should be less critical in these days of such as Skype and other convenient media. What is needed is Government help to set up the infrastructure I am talking about, easy finance for home-building, and the attraction of appropriate industry. The latter is necessary to provide the jobs – the major attraction and raisin d’être for such developments.

    1. colin says:

      While house prices are bullish and increasing faster the average salary there will be resistance to house building, no matter where it’s planned….the need for housing is surpassed by the need for no more homes to be built in order to keep the present PONZI alive.

      Completely unsustainable of course,but you try telling that to those who have inherited two detached cottages next to Bishopbriggs golf course from Their uncle Tarquin.

      In the meantime, millions of young people have been priced out of renting, home ownership only accessible to lottery winners, crooked bankers, foreign despots or Westminster MPs.

      1. C Rober says:

        Millions of young people trying to get on the ladder are prevented by those causing it , the banks.

        When any other business model fails it is sold off to pay its creditors , not banking its instead socialised and nationalised , where the tax payer pays for it in bailouts , to keep the wealthy in their “affordable housing”.

        Had the GOVTs of the world the rounders that god gave them in actually demanding asset sales , not allowed asset inflation on the books , with mortgaged property sold off to the highest non banking bidder , in the locale the property is in , not speculators or property hedge funds , then HPD would happen..

        But its prevented from every angle possible.This is something that needs change now , not simply the banks holding onto stock , inflating the book asset value , then selling them on in interest only mortgages that are “guaranteed” , further sub prime problems that created the Crash of 2008.

        I agree with the Bishy analogy , the secondary recipient , wanting to protect an asset that the never paid for.

        Having known a few bishy , mearns , miln type folk its spam and jam for tea , leased beemers and lots of empty chianti bottles in the reccy bin , they are sitting waiting on the reaper to release capital for them and traditional No voters last year.

        However the kind of people that stay in Bishy , outwith the ex=ex cooncil stock , HPI will always be the case.Those bungalows and sandstone villas over looking parks and courses were in fact always executive , and will command their premiums.They are not meant for first time buyers , but for the original middle classes , not the imitation that SLAB would have us believe that the working classes are now , theres aspirational and then there is rational.

        IF young people want to get on the ladder they need to have two checks , a deposit one, and a reality one , been there , tshirt is now faded , but still worn , one that was not bought on credit.

        They need to come on to a ladder , that might mean that BIshy is not first or indded any choice at all , but ex coonsil Springburn instead , in which there is no shame having done so in a much rougher manner personally.This means sacrifice , no pubs , no new claes , no sky and so on , even nae wains , again t shirt bought.

        I had to get a 30 percent deposit to get a rough ex coonsil flat , pre sub prime , which took me around four years.

        Three of no beer , coonsil telly , walking rather than public or private transport , no hols , nae beer , nae internet , nae mobiles , nae beer , not a thing bought on credit , nae beer , and on but minimum wage of less than 2 quid an hour at the time…. oh did I mention nae beer?

        But I fear those most loudly complaining about the lack of AH dont wish to make sacrifices to get the BIG deposit , for the first rung , which lets face it should be the deciding factor on whether they can actually afford to do it in the first place , thus the ability in proceeding to the next rung.

        We have a subset of where McDonalds has procreated with a reality tv show and spawned a generation ,on that want it now and are unwilling to do what it takes to get it.

        AH its now socialism for the lazy wannabe elite that have no interest in self sacrifice , or self restraint , to get what they desire and instead refusing compromise like the Greeks just now.

        Affordable housing is a sham in places , where ” I want to stay in a house with hot and cold running everything , in the richest therefore peer accepted best postcode and naewhere else”. Its a DEMAND , but with the added “I am not willing to work or pay for it through my own means”.

        If the above last sentences was in the Daily Heil it would be about a benefit claimant , their 7 weans to 8 different faithers wanting a bigger hoose , not about a pseudo middle class housing need paraded as a genuine shortage for all.

        Those types are using AH like warfare , simply to be the new middle classes , looking doon not on the Golf course itself , but instead on the “great unwashed social housing renters” that they closetly despise , but are all too willing to use for their financial gain.

        The only coonsil which those type have is a membership to the Coonsil golf club……until they have Affordable Private Golf Clubs , in the similar manner of AH , by govt policy , from their like minded millionaire politicians whom ironically see them too as their great unwashed to be used.

        SH is and should be the first rung of housing , if someone wants better than that then rightly they should pay for it , I did.

        I grew up coonsil , fist rented property was coonsil , skipped RTB , next was ex coonsil , next was the bishy style bungalow for which I paid a premium for the Quality of life I too aspired for , but sacrificed to get , therefore it was indeed Affordable Housing.

        Had RTB been enacted correctly and fed back to councils for further building , with its increased LOCAL employment , rather than funding the wealth of the LASE elite , it would have kept housing affordable , adding pride to communities through ownership and local income , uplifting them to places you would want to live in , remain in , rather than fake socialism instead like some form of Robert McGabe and land grabs for builders profits.

        Whats next then , the true middling classes demanding that their Degree Debt is absorbed at the expense of the zero hour contract workers with increased taxation , so they can hae affordable hoosing away fae the noo aging affordable housing?

        You kin bet yer tiny AH hoose , with gairden ye kin kerpet , almost touching yer neeboors wa’ , wi leased beemer , that it will.

  14. Grendel says:

    Strange how greedy property developers who want to bugger up our dear green urban places are bad, yet those who want to bugger up our dear green wild places are good. If you are going to defend the indefensible, which is the exploitation of land, simply because the SNP says that because a windfarm will be plonked on it that it is good, then there isn’t much point in trying to argue the case. In this case a Labour council (Booo!) will decide whether the developer gets the go ahead. It’s an easy target, and I fully agree with Vonny’s arguments about the lands worth being more than a brutal economic one. But that same point is just as valid when dealing with the huge windfarm developments which are spreading across the Highlands, the Lowlands and everywhere inbetween. Wild land is not simply an economic source, but a spiritual one. Once defiled, then it’s just the same as the wee bit of land where Dougie Blackwood used to play. Gone. Forever. Once in place and the principle has been accepted that it can be there it will never be given up, and if anything will be made bigger.
    Urban spawl must be reduced to a slow creep. If there are brownfield sites within city boundaries then they should be redeveloped before one inch of green is given up to brick and concrete, and the priority must be social housing, not “affordable” housing. Clear away the modern slums, and provide good quality housing where people can afford to live and build successful lives, instead of what is all to often the case with social housing, the dregs of the property world forced onto those who can’t do better.

    1. colin says:

      The problem as l see it, was caused by those who believed, no doubt sincerely, that the property market was like any other market, that it would self regulate between supply and demand.

      We now know that wasn’t to be the case.

      Enough of the history lecture, where do we go from here?

      l believe that it’s a no- brainer, we must go upwards

      Look to Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore for answers…high rise is the only way to go, not the rubbish you see in Springburn but quality high rise that people will want to live in.

      1. Bleat says:

        Yep, high density living is the way forward. Less Frank Lloyd Write and more up up up. Glasgow city center apparently (please correct me if wrong) has the most brown field sites of any city in Europe. So I kinda agree with Vonny and yourself. Housing is only seen as a commodity and zoned, when affordable public housing bought and run by the local authority should be given priority ‘down town’ as it is in other high dense cities. The question is why doesn’t the SNP government do something about this through the planning system? Why do they adopt a strictly market based approach, rather than looking at the wider economic/ social structure of the city? But it coud be worse Vonny, at least you don’t live in Fife or the NE where the SNP govt has allowed developers to carpet the place with ‘luxury’ houses that no one can afford. But hey I’m sure it’s all Westmonsters fault somehow!

      2. barakabe says:

        High quality high density inner-city core developments would be ideal but unlikely to happen in the UK- people here have become ideologically conditioned to the idea of up-down stairs detached house with front/back garden in suburbia- ideal in the sense of: why would you want to get a taxi back to some suburban back of beyond after a night out in the city? Why commute to work or sit in a traffic jam when you can easily walk or travel for a very short time on public transport? What’s more is that Glasgow-Edinburgh have a lot of inner city public parks & are only a short journey from Highlands-Scottish Borders. What I can’t understand is how councils aren’t pushing for more social housing development as it seems a win-win situation for them: a massive captive customer base of those who cannot get on the housing market/& a long term assured viable income from guaranteed rents. As others have mentioned there are far too many vested interest groups who gain from the present high-demand/low supply state of UK housing for any of this to change soon.

        PS

        Gordon I absolutely agree with you on rural development as additional development to inner city brownfield sites: how great would it be to see settlements in the great glens of Scotland again? I love those Swiss villages nestled between mountains- it would be great to see that happening here ( & why can’t it for those who want it?).

    2. Bleat says:

      ‘The priority must be social housing not affordable housing’ In total agreement, but this can be done through the planning process (devolved). The affordable quota could be increased and bought at a price the govt chooses. The Private sector builds cheap for earmarked social housing. Why does this not happen when it happens in many euro countries?

      1. Bleat says:

        After all, when it comes to overriding local planners and destroying sites of international ecological importance for an ‘international golf course’ and bullying elderly people out of their homes for Donald Trump/ or carpeting the land with windmills rather than offshore and tidal then the SNP govt are very interventionist? Why not in this case?

  15. C Rober says:

    Agreed for most of all the many contributors parts.

    However as for wind farms there is a need and place for them , rurally , offshore , community use before carbon fuels are exhausted or become only for the use of the wealthy.Grab swatch at the region South and East of Greenock , hardly a better place to site some with no worry about the income from grouse season.

    Forestry and Water dept land , no one living there for miles , barely fit for sheep , out of sight and mind , there is barely an impact to environment placing any wind farms there.

    Its not a landowner that owns the land there to profit from , its GOVT land (ish) , and in a employee commutable area of consistent long term unemployment leading to local jobs.

    Building upwards works , but as mentioned people want those damn shoe boxes , with wooden fences , unused driveways and gairdens so the weans kin roll aboot in toxic grass , in a back green smaller than their living room.

    Its a bad day when there wis mair m2 green space behind a council tenement than a hoose ye kin buy for 250k today.

    How about we think laterally aboot vertically , old age communities in hi rises , safe in the knowledge they are protected , disabled access and on the level living , with concierge and nursing , thus freeing up housing as a byproduct?

    After all we are told we have a timebomb of elderly in the next twenty years , excluding the male of Glasgows East end obviously that wont reach retirement.At least this way they are looked after with dignity and affordability for the cradle to grave ponzi they paid into ….. that is until someone starts demanding that we take in our elderly parents for the economy sake , like some form of bedroom tax , not unlike blaming benefit claimants of today.

    The taking in of the elderly , its a half joke , half fear situation btw.

    We could very well see the next phase of land use , the 3g house , or even 4g , where the country hasn’t progressed at all , and in fact regressed about 100 years on the housing front.But hey at least the houses aren’t back to back ghettos anymore, social housing , or within view of a wind turbine while they freeze to death unable to afford gas.

    At least with a Bishy bungalow you could upgrade , convert as your family grew , or had enough land to bulid a granny flat in the back gairden.With todays housing you would be lucky to extend for a kennel , with kids rooms smaller than a cell in Bar -L where the criminal lives in luxury without worrying aboot the mortgage.

    I once read up on the subject of empty buildings , there was 3x more houses and empty urban space lying empty than needed back then , even excluding the many hundreds of thousands razed by Westminster decree since that belonged to councils , from then it has risen.

    The answer is to therefore prevent property banking and force rent control for Private landlords whom make bankers rich , get back to bungalows that you can expand as and when you need , a house for life , removing the necessity to go another step up the ladder once more.

    We have learned a lot about building up , concrete that fails , steel joints that fail , rarely anything bad to say about bungalows on the matter , other than the dreaded mortgageable Dorans , but if yer a cash buyer you kin buy wan and demo it and build another anyway.

    Then again once the care bill gets out of hand , houses will be sold out from under the owner to pay for it , oh wait , thats already happening isnt it , forcing us toward 3g homes or lose the inheritance in care fees? Hardly a reason to adopt home ownership over SH.

  16. C Rober says:

    One other quick thought , why not more New towns?

    East Kilbride , Livingston , Irvine , Cumbernauld , did these not work? Then again you need employers. South Ayrshire is particularly keen for housing , would give a fish with planning for a pond approval in a heart beat.

    Why not a high speed line from Greenock to Glasgow , theres room there alone for 50,000 houses on land where council stock once stood that is now dear green places , but then again the green is mostly shards from buckfast bottles?

  17. barakabe says:

    The problem with new towns is they are now beginning to fail: Cumbernauld-Irvine-Glenrothes-Livingston are all beginning to creak at the seams with increased unemployment, crime, poverty & other social problems. The problem being they are too far away from the main employment generator that are the central cores of Glasgow & Edinburgh. Most towns like Greenock, Motherwell, Hamilton, Coatbridge-Airdrie etc all expanded to meet demand for raw materials to supply the second city of Empire ( what purpose to they serve now other than domiciles?). Expanding outward or away from the central core just brings us back to the problem of private car use again. Incidentally I think from an ideological perspective it suits a Conservative elite to promote suburban ways of life, ie low density detached-terraced housing, private car centred, living where there are no amenities or central community services- so people live in atomised bubbles of house, car, work, drive to shops ( shopping mall-supermarket), car back to house, without ever meeting or interacting with your neighbour. I do think this way of life has propagated a very me-me conservative way of life that suits the RIght-Wing agenda of the establishment.

  18. John Page says:

    Another piece of lovely writing, Vonny. Thank you.

    John Page

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