Neil McKay: Glasgow's transformation shows no signs of stopping

Glasgow is a city in the midst of transformation. The tower blocks which once dominated the skyline have largely been reduced to rubble, and for many the city is unrecognisable to that of the 1970s and 1980s.

We can take great pride in the changes happening in Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry
We can take great pride in the changes happening in Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry

The city council and housing associations can take significant credit for their desire to move with the times and ensure that newly created communities truly serve the people living in them.

One of the key priorities for Glasgow City Council is their Transforming Communities: Glasgow programme. This programme oversees major regeneration and development projects, with eight identified Transformational Regeneration Areas, six of which are currently active – Gallowgate, Maryhill, Laurieston, Sighthill, North Toryglen and Pollokshaws. At the heart of this programme is mixed tenure housing, sitting alongside community facilities, green space and where appropriate, commercial units.

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Urban Union enjoys a strong working relationship with both Glasgow City Council and a number of housing associations. Our first major project was in Laurieston – it has been a tremendous success. In the first phase at our Laurieston Living development we delivered a total of 240 affordable homes for New Gorbals Housing Association, together with 69 private for sale properties.

A further 55 affordable homes are currently being constructed for New Gorbals Housing Association and construction of the second phase has just begun, with 173 new private for sale homes set to be created and the first residents due to move in during 2018.

Building homes is just one part of what we do. We are not only committed to creating top quality places to live, but also to helping create jobs and apprenticeships in the local area as well as supporting community groups to ensure it is a true part of the fabric of an area. We work extensively with schools and have helped transition youngsters into employment.

And we have become known for our award-winning arts strategy – working with amazing artists in residence to create work that involves the community and highlights some of the brilliant people within it.

Recently, artists from Laurieston and Pennywell – our Edinburgh regeneration project – spoke at a Holyrood Cross Party Group on Culture, explaining how art is integral to our developments.

In Laurieston, the work done has been spectacular. The Open Spaces project, for example, has made use of some of the vacant areas around the development, with pop-up events, exhibitions, community workshops, film screenings and theatre performances being held.

However our vision for Glasgow reaches beyond just Laurieston. We recently acquired land in Pollokshaws, another Transformational Regeneration Area. There, we will be building a total of 137 homes for sale, with work due to start next summer and complete by 2021. Again, we will be incorporating an extensive community engagement and arts strategy, working with the local community to ensure they feel like the forthcoming development truly represents them. We are excited to build on previous successes in the area, which has recently undergone extensive regeneration and seen several hundred homes built.

Glasgow’s transformation shows no signs of stopping, and with great work being done across some of our most challenged communities, we can all take great pride in the changes happening around us.

Neil McKay is managing director of Urban Union