June 18, 2014
Tailor made for Community Empowerment Bill
21 years ago Glasgow City Council stopped using three playing fields in the Maryhill area. Without maintenance the ground rapidly became derelict and overgrown. 6 years ago, the community started work on the land and have gradually transformed it into a much loved community meadow. The new Community Empowerment Bill is designed to help communities take just this sort of action but now the Council wants the land back. It may be too late for the people of North Kelvin but there again, the Council could blaze the empowerment trail with an exemplar public asset transfer.
RESIDENTS behind a community group that has kept disused playing fields in Maryhill in use have urged locals to voice their opposition to council plans to destroy their park.
The North Kelvin Meadow has been managed by locals since 2008, after being left derelict since the council stopped using it as sports fields in 1993.
Glasgow City Council revealed its official plans last month, and the consultation period is open until June 27, with the group behind the meadow urging residents to lodge an opposition to the plans.
Douglas Peacock is the head of the campaign to save the meadow and would like the council to mark the area as official green space to prevent it being built on.
He said: “We’ve been campaigning for that for around six years now. The council has classed the land as being surplus to requirements for 21 years now – in 1993 they decided that they weren’t willing to maintain it as sports pitches, and left it.
“The land now has 480 trees, some between 30 and 40 feet high. Official council policy says that they can’t sell ex-sports fields if it’s in use, and this is definitely in use.
“The only consultation we’ve ever been given from the council is about what kind of flats we want – and we don’t want any flats built.”
In 2009, when the council first announced plans to build housing on the land, they described the area as “absolutely not a meadow, it’s three derelict red blaze football pitches.”
Douglas, and the rest of those who volunteer at the Meadow, have installed raised-bed allotments, a fruit garden, composting facilities and a wild flower plantation, and is now used by a variety of different groups.
Douglas said: “There’s a host of reasons why it’s so important to the community. It’s quite different from the Botanic Gardens or Kelvingrove Park, with the unique selling point being that this is a community space that people can get their hands on.
“Everybody has agreed that having these type of places is important to Glasgow – Glasgow City Council agree with these things, so it seems crazy that they want to bulldoze it.”
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council insisted the area, owned by New City Vision, was not a greenfield site and was designated “appropriate for residential development.”
He said: “A planning application will be considered by the council’s Planning Applications Committee in due course.
“The application is for a mix of 90 homes (townhouses, flats and mews properties) with additional space that will have scope for a children’s play area.
“The site size is 1.4 hectares. The developer was selected on the basis of their presenting the best financial offer, and their proposal was the one that had the greatest level of community support from those attending the consultation day which the council held back in 2008.
“We are in continued discussions with the developer over the future of the site.”
Information about the campaign to save the North Kelvin Meadow, and how to lodge an opposition to the council plans can be found at www.northkelvinmeadow.com.