Cumbernauld town centre's fate should be decided by the people who live there – Scotsman comment

Love it or hate it, Cumbernauld town centre certainly generates strong opinions.

One opinion – that of North Lanarkshire Council – is that it should be demolished and replaced in its entirety by a new shopping, living and civic space in a greener, low-carbon environment.

Another, voiced by architectural historian Barnabas Calder, is that demolition would be “cowardly and wasteful” and that the 1960s complex should be renovated instead.

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And a third, held by a former resident of the town who has urged Historic Environment Scotland to step in to protect the structure, is that it is “enormously important” as an “urban experiment” in brutalist architecture.

As a result, Historic Environment Scotland has now opened a preliminary consultation into whether the town centre should be formally protected and thereby potentially saved from destruction.

However, given its dominance of the place where they live, surely there is one opinion that really should carry more weight than any other – and that is the collective view of the people who currently live in Cumbernauld.

It would be different if it was one building among many, but Cumbernauld town centre is precisely that – the unavoidable heart of the community.

And if a clear and substantial majority hate it or are fed up waiting for vague promises that it could be redeveloped at some point in the future to come to fruition, then it would seem contrary almost to the point of cruelty to insist that it remains, both set in aspic and gradually decaying, for eternity.



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