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April 27, 2010

Every gap site has a green lining

40 years ago, three town houses in Glasgow’s West End were destroyed by fire and the resulting gap site has lain derelict ever since.  The site is now owned by Woodlands Community Development Trust and they have plans for the housing to be eventually replaced.  Until then it’s great news for those community growers who see a potential allotment or orchard in every vacant lot

Evening Times, Graeme Murray

A derelict gap site in the Glasgow’s West End which has lain empty for 40 years will be transformed into green oasis where residents can grow their own vegetables.

The land, in Woodlands, was once home to a listed terrace of houses, but has been vacant since the 1970s when a fire destroyed three of the townhouses.

The overgrown area is owned by the Woodlands Community Development Trust, which eventually wants similar townhouses rebuilt to complete the line of the terrace.

But in the current financial climate, the cost of any rebuilding scheme would be too expensive for any developer to take on.

Instead, it plans to use the space as a community garden where fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers can be grown by people living in surrounding tenements. It also hopes to create a small social and educational hub on the site where local people can gather and workshops can be held.

Hannah Buss, treasurer of Grow Glasgow, which promotes organic fruit and vegetable growing in Hillhead and Woodlands, is helping transform the space and today urged local people to get involved.

She said: “The site has been derelict since the 70s. The endgame is to transform it into a community garden and to get people growing vegetables on the site.

“From Grow’s point of view we are trying to promote organic food growing on the site. I do hope it will become an oasis and we also hope to hold social events there. We are hoping by the end of the summer we will have something tangible at the site.”

A small building planned for the site is being designed with the help of architecture students from Glasgow School of Art.

Woodlands Community Development Trust also want to secure the area with new fencing on West Princes Street and at the rear of a site which backs on to a lane off Ashley Street.

The first stages of clearing the land will involve removing litter, debris and weeds which will pave the way for the creation of the community garden.

The overgrown site, opposite a private residents’ garden on Queens Crescent, may in the future be built on again once the economy recovers.

But Ms Buss, who is also a member of Woodlands Community Development Trust, believes that even if a developer came up with the funds to rebuild the historic townhouse terrace, this would be unlikely to happen in the immediate future.

She said: “It would have to have the same facade as the existing buildings and even if somebody came along with the money, it would take at least five years before anything got done.”