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May 23, 2007

Think-tank attacks city’s rebirth

Poorer parts of Scotland’s largest city have been left behind by major regeneration projects, according to a new report from think tank Demos.


Think-tank attacks city’s rebirth 






Poorer parts of Scotland‘s largest city have been left behind by major regeneration projects, according to a new report.


Think-tank Demos found that high-profile regeneration programmes were failing to improve many people’s quality of life.


The survey also found that many UK city leaders were running out of ideas to “deepen the urban renaissance”.


Glasgow City Council dismissed the report as “an insult to Glaswegians”.


The report – The Dreaming City: Glasgow 2020 and the power of mass imagination – called for “mass-imagination” programmes to “capture the aspirations and creativity of citizens”.


It warned that without this, regeneration efforts which rely on iconic architecture, leisure and tourism would increase social division and erode trust and civic pride.


Demos asked more than 5,000 Glaswegian residents to create a new shared vision for the future of their city.


Schoolchildren, council tenants, company directors, cleaners, asylum seekers, single parents and teenagers were among those who took part.


The report argued that recent UK urban regeneration was based on an unsustainable ‘cultural arms race’, with cities competing against each other to attract investment and tourism.


New ideas


Melissa Mean, head of Demos’ self build cities programme, said: “City leaders are running on empty in terms of ideas to sustain the urban renaissance.


“When every city has commissioned a celebrity architect and pedestrianised a cultural quarter, distinctiveness is reduced to a formula.


“To find some new ideas and energy, instead of dry consultations which have pre-set boxes to be ticked, cities need to open up to the mass imagination of their citizens.


“People in Glasgow showed that they have the creativity to imagine better and more innovative futures. Councils need to listen.”


However, Glasgow City Council was scathing in its condemnation of the survey.


A spokesman said: “This report is nothing less than an insult to the many Glaswegians who gave up their time to take part.


“Bizarre would be a charitable way to describe some of the report’s conclusions. What on earth is meaningless nonsense such as ‘assemblies of hope’, ‘alchemists’ or ‘mass imaginings’?


“Regeneration in Glasgow has meant new homes, schools and leisure facilities in every community.


“That’s something London-based academics who know nothing and care less about Glasgow may ignore, but means a huge amount to Glaswegians.


“Of course, there is still a lot of work to do in the city. However, this will be done by investing in education, getting more people into work, and continuing to regenerate local communities, including more new housing.”