With the holiday season almost upon us, there is an anticipation that many people may choose to stay closer to home due to ongoing restrictions and uncertainties around foreign travel. The challenge for GCC is ensuring that Glasgow continues to operate as effectively as possible and offers a warm and welcoming destination for everyone.
Since its inception in 2014, the City Centre Mural Trail has provided an alternative offer within Glasgow city centre. Freely available to visitors, tourists and residents alike, the murals have been praised for their positive impact on the urban landscape.
GCC has looked to promote this activity through its own media channels and those of our project partners, such as Glasgow Life and Visit Scotland. Additionally, GCC has developed a range of helpful resources to raise awareness of and engagement with the City Centre Mural Trail. For instance, we now have an Audio Map, an interactive online tool which allows people to participate in a “virtual” guided walking tour of the murals.
Though led by GCC, the City Centre Mural Trail relies on the goodwill and active participation of artists, landlords and the general public. Without this community involvement the project simply would not exist. Instead, the project has become hugely successful and is now highly ranked on TripAdvisor, generating media interest around the world.
As an example of this interest, GCC staff were recently invited to take part in an interview with the Glasgow City Heritage Trust and the results can be found here:
For further information about the City Centre Mural Trail please see:
To access GCC’s online story map, please use the following link: Audio Map
The Puppet Animation will now have a presence within Glasgow City Centre, at 31-39 Trongate, 50 Parnie St and 19-21 Saltmarket. This event is part of the Scotland’s International Festival of Visual Theatre and Animated Film.
This is a mechanical puppet animation and seeks to attract footfall to the area. If you live in the Glasgow local authority area, and are looking for something to do, or a place to visit as the city is still in Tier 3, please feel free to come and enjoy the spectacular artwork.
This event will run from 19 – 24 May and has proven to be a great success in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. So, what are you waiting for?
Due to covid restrictions, you should only visit if you live in Glasgow City.
Glasgow City Council, after approval from the Scottish Government, has adopted its City Centre Strategic Development Framework (SDF) – the document which will help guide the centre’s development over the next three decades, driving economic renewal and meeting the challenges of climate change.
This SDF now provides Supplementary Guidance to Glasgow’s City Development Plan and will inform all planning and land use regeneration decisions in the centre. The SDF is an accompanying document to the City Centre Strategy, which is currently under revision. The SDF also provides an overarching placemaking policy context for the city centre’s nine District Regeneration Frameworks, which provide more detailed placemaking guidance to guide development at the local District level.
The SDF was developed through public consultation, and at its heart, the document has six key ambitions for the city centre to bring economic, environmental and social benefit to Glasgow:
- Reinforce the city centre’s economic competitiveness;
- Re-populate the city centre and ensure liveable and sustainable neighbourhoods that promote health, wellbeing and social cohesion;
- Reconnect the city centre with surrounding communities and its riverside;
- Reduce traffic dominance and car dependency and create a pedestrian and cycle friendly city centre, with improved public transport, that is healthier and cleaner;
- Green the city centre and make it climate resilient with a network of high-quality public spaces and green-blue infrastructure that caters for a variety of human and climatic needs; and
- Repair, restore and enhance the urban fabric to reconnect streets and reinforce the city centre’s distinctive heritage and character.
The delivery of these ambitions will mean that Glasgow will have a city centre that is vibrant, sustainable, liveable and well-connected, offering ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ that provide all the daily (and night-time) needs of the people who work, live, study and visit there in terms of local services, shops and green space.
The environment of the city centre will be healthier, with its streets and public spaces both more attractive and more resilient to climate change – helping to deliver the national target to be net zero-carbon by 2045. The area will also attract more investment as businesses and developers respond to the increased quality of its spaces and places, so fundamental to the enjoyment of a city centre.
Glasgow City Council looks forward to collaborating with local residents, workers and visitors – as well as government agencies, investors, developers, and businesses – and all who experience the city centre on the delivery of the SDF Action Plan and the future improvement of the city centre.
Some of the key actions proposed in the city centre SDF include measures to: improve the offer of the city centre as a ‘day out destination’ with more leisure opportunities, featuring public spaces (including a new river park) that will complement and support its retail offer; create high quality and vibrant mixed-use business environments that better serve and support a modern workforce; create a simplified, highly integrated ‘green grid’ street network that improves the walking and cycling experience throughout the centre; improve crossings and the environment around the M8; and create a network of high quality public open spaces featuring trees and planting as part of the overall ambition to ‘green the grey’ of the city centre.
Glasgow’s City Centre SDF – the contents of which also respond to ongoing changes in the retail, office, leisure and residential sectors – can be found here and along with the Council’s other adopted SDFs for the River Corridor and Govan/Patrick here
As part of the High Street Area Strategy, City Property and Glasgow City Council have been trialling a Meanwhile Use initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to show that there are innovative ways to bring vacant units into use and to animate the area. Most meanwhile use tenants on the High Street and Saltmarket are from the creative communities, so they bring a distinct offer to the area. For instance, some of the tenants were involved in the “2020 Vision” event held in December. This event saw shopfronts illuminated in 3D designs and helped improve the vibrancy of the area. It is hoped that more events like this will take place, with the local community, artists and businesses working in partnership to rejuvenate the area.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the vast majority of tenants who took part in the initiative are keen to stay within the spaces and transfer to full commercial leases on stepped rental terms. This shows that if we change and reimagine our approach to vacant units, we can create locations that are commercially sustainable whilst help increase demand in the area. In addition, it also enables us to have creative, imaginative individuals at the heart of our communities, which can only help improve the vitality of our neighbourhoods.
Given the success of this trial it will be interesting to see how meantime use might be extended to other areas and how this might be achieved.
Collecting ideas for Cowcaddens, Townhead, Learning Quarter and Merchant City continues.
You can still contribute, still let us know how you think things could be improved. If you live, work or visit these districts fill out either or both the Proposal form or the Pledge forms then send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
All the ideas will be added to all the other community and stakeholder conversations that we have already had. There will also be more community engagement sessions latter in March and April. The idea is to use all the information and ideas that we have collected to create a handbook for each of these districts. These will set out suggestions and ideas which aim to make these districts better places over the next 10 years.
The top three things that people wanted to talk about so far have been streets and spaces, moving around and feeling safe. Are your ideas about one or more of these things or is it something else that you see as an opportunity to make things better.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
The Thriving City story map has been developed as part of the High Street Area Strategy, to offer an opportunity to explore 1500 years of history of the High Street of Glasgow. Like many projects within the strategy, the Thriving City story map intends to bring more visitors to the High Street, with the ambition of improving the look and feel of this historic street, bringing a new lease of life to the area and the local community.
The Thriving City story map is in three main sections: historic images of people, places and events shown on banners, along the High Street; a vennels, wynds and closes heritage trail where you can discover who, what and where people lived throughout the ages and the Community Heritage map (currently being developed), which gives local communities the chance to tell their stories of the High Street.
You can explore the beautifully curated images on the banners, by clicking on the map, which will follow in Spring 2021. Each point on the map aligns with two historic images. By clicking on the images you can discover, the hidden history of the site. On your journey, you will find out about the famous people who lived and worked there, including James Watt and Adam Smith. Events such as the Battle of Havana and the Battle of Bell ‘O’Brae and historic buildings hidden beneath the Victorian architecture. You can explore the heritage of the Old College and the Old Pedagogy.
The Vennels, Wynds and Closes heritage trail directs visitors using a series of historical hand-painted signs which are due to installed in Spring 2021.
The Past Present and Possible project will feed into the Community Heritage map section and will contain the history of the community associated with different locations in the area.
The story map offers a free, fun and exciting way to explore the High Street, as well as providing knowledge on the heritage of the oldest street in Glasgow. You can access the developing story map here.
The Council’s City Deal funded Sauchiehall Street Avenue has recently won the Excellence in Sustainable Infrastructure category at the Landscape Institute Awards 2020.
The City Deal/City Centre Regeneration team at Development and Regeneration Services coordinated the project, which is the pilot scheme for the wider Avenues programme. The Avenues are made up of 17 separate schemes that will not only see the delivery of sustainable infrastructure but also bring economic benefits to the city centre.
By redressing the balance of space for people and vehicles, the Avenues project was able to introduce twenty-six semi-mature trees, a bi-directional cycle track, architectural lighting features and footways wide enough for outside seating for everyone to enjoy.
A key aim of the Sauchiehall Avenue project was to promote active travel (walking and cycling) which will help us tackle climate change, make us healthier – both mentally and physically – and has wide-ranging economic benefits. This uptake in active travel through the scheme has been demonstrated by an approximate 600% increase in cyclists entering the city centre via Sauchiehall Street.
Find out more about the awards finalists here
Find out more about the Sauchiehall Avenues project here
A series of installations from Nich Smith Lighting Design – 2020 Visions – runs from 12 – 20 December 2020.
While closed to the public, Tron Theatre is working on a series of innovative projects, funded through the Scottish Government’s Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund that will present dramatic content in unconventional settings. The first of these, 2020 Visions from Nich Smith Lighting Design is a participatory work that asks what the future holds for our city centre community when high streets are changing, office blocks are emptying, and shops may be closing.
Opening at dusk on Saturday 12 December 2020 Visions asks what the future of our neighbourhoods will be and presents it as a series of scenes in nine sites around the Tron Theatre. Street-level windows have been taken over with installations inspired by the stories and ideas of local people who have contributed to the project online and through social media by sharing their hopes and dreams for the future. Part promenade, part treasure hunt, part collective dream, 2020 Visions invites passers-by, city-dwellers, shoppers and neighbours alike to reflect and imagine a brighter future during the darkest week of the winter.
A core feature of 2020 Visions is to collaborate with emerging artists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Visual artists Sekai Machache, Samuel Temple, and Saoirse Anis joined with the 2020 Visions team of theatre technicians, lighting designers, and set designers in a creative mash-up which has produced curious and playful artworks in response to the question “What does our future hold?” Visions have been reflective, resonant, thought-provoking, and fun.
As the days get shorter and night comes earlier, 2020 Visions has populated empty spaces with light and re-animated the Trongate neighbourhood with hope.
2020 Visions, which is being delivered with support from City Property LLP, will light up nine sites around the Trongate, including the Tron Theatre, from dusk to 9pm daily from 12–20 December.
For more information contact:
Lindsay Mitchell, Head of Marketing & Communications email@example.com
Here is the latest blog in the series that discuss different aspects of the ongoing (Y)our City Centre Regeneration. Here artist Peter McCaughey, Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle introduce the (Y)our Place Map: A City of Portraits – an interactive map that captures a series of portraits of the diverse voices who make up the great city of Glasgow.
Art organisation, WAVEparticle, has made a map of central Glasgow, capturing a series of portraits of the diverse voices which make up this great complicated city we live in. The portrait interviews aim to capture some of the several ‘hats’ each person ‘wears’. It focuses on those working in or living in, one of the four districts that are defined in the City Council’s City Centre Strategy: Cowcaddens, Townhead, the Learning Quarter, and the Merchant City. This Strategy aims to set out a vision and action plan for each of the nine distinct, interconnected Districts that make up the city centre.
Click on the image for the live map (opens in new tab)
We are working with a team of architects, transport engineers, ecologists, planners, urbanists and economists, who are attempting to read and rethink these Districts to inform the plans for their future in a two-year project called the District Regeneration Frameworks or DRF. As a team of artists, we lead on building participation from the people who live and work in these areas and thread their voices, creativity and cultural focus into the overall work. We believe that the people we encounter hold bespoke knowledge and expertise- in their own lives, and often in all sorts of other areas. We record their observations of the patterns and details of the places where they live/work. We work in the tradition of Artist as a cartographer of the personal, social, anecdotal city, charting the psychogeography, as well as noting the dog fouling and parking issues that often dominate people’s first responses to us.
The overall team has been involved in an online survey of these four Districts of Glasgow city centre using a website called Commonplace. To complement this survey we have undertaken a series of in-depth interviews that enable deeper exploration of the issues important to residents, businesses and organisations in these Districts. The aim has been to build a map filled with personal insight, the struggles and achievements of day-to-day life, the big dreams and mundane frustrations, the music, art, and poetry. We pay attention to the things that the people we speak to think work and the things they would change – particularly in the four districts under study but also across the city.
“Most people are quite open minded and are not against change. What they just want to know is if there is some coherency in the plans and if it’s not going to be just another concrete block.”
Tony Munro, Local resident and Chair of Townhead Village Hall
The map is an online resource, (Y)our Place Map: A City Of Portraits, and will grow into a network of hundreds of diverse voices and related artefacts that remind us all of our complex, multi-cultural diversity. The map’s interface has been built by artist Naomi Van Dijck, over a precise google ‘undercoat’, and its surface has been illustrated with over 30 drawings by artist Danielle Banks, that fill the map with recognisable monuments and building facades.
The interviews have been conducted mainly by myself and logged and edited by Lizzy O’Brien, Naomi and myself. The goal has been to get beyond soundbite culture to a more complex understanding of the richness, diversity and ideas of the people who make up Glasgow. We wanted the handmade feeling of the map to complement the sense of a city of individuals, who somehow come together to make communities and a whole city.
“One of the things that’s missing from regeneration are [ethnic] communities. Often regeneration is physical but there are other considerations. There is not a regeneration organisation or group for ethnic minorities”
– Mohammed Razaq, Executive Director, West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
COVID has dictated that many of these interviews have taken place in people’s homes, via Zoom or Microsoft teams, so we have lost out on our preference of speaking to people in the place they are responding to. COVID guidelines have also restricted our preferred unplanned, peripatetic encounter, so we’ve had to work harder to get to the people often neglected in participative processes, and ultimately, we have had to identify ambassadors for these communities and go to them. At this early stage, the map has gaps, geographically and in terms of diversity. This underscores our experience on other projects recently, that the harder to reach have become even harder to reach during COVID, especially given that the use of some of our approaches and customised tools are restricted by current guidance.
“I’m the last shop in Glasgow that fixes small appliances, small shops are disappearing. Big companies produce goods that you throw away when they break. I am 62, when I retire the shop will go.”
– Mr. Avtar Singh, Local businessman, connected to SEMSA, an organisation to bring ethnic minorities together
Nonetheless, the experience is and has been, inspiring, illuminating, and educational, and sometimes frustrating – there are brilliant ideas out there for solutions relating to transport, urban realm, housing, social and cultural challenges but people often feel disempowered to make these changes. Ultimately our goal is to help shape an understanding of the city within these communities, our wider team, and the City Council, and by doing so, change the city for the better.
To us, this is all common-sense. The work is founded in a deep and fundamental belief in the resource the next person we meet represents, be they homeless, asylum seeker or refugee, shopkeeper, a retired worker, unemployed person, company director, street cleaner, student, visitor or long-term resident, and irrespective of their creed, skin colour, employment status, age or mobility. When someone in the marketing department of Glasgow City Council decided on the brand People Make Glasgow they tapped into a fundamental truth, beyond the cliché; people really do make Glasgow and a city full of acknowledged, empowered citizens is a wonderful, vibrant, diverse, innovative creative place- a place of resilience in hard times.
“It’s been a difficult time. Luckily we still have a lot of support from the Chinese community. I cooked food for the NHS during COVID. I am 62, I want to give back to the community, I would join a Cowcaddens community Council.”
Maria Lees, Local businesswoman, owns the Chinatown restaurant
It’s a great privilege to be an in-betweener on such projects and to explore how a type of devolved, integrated networking of knowledge and culture might inform the hard-physical infrastructure of roads and housing, lighting and surface drainage. The esoteric, the lyrical, the pragmatic-the imagined city, the annoying kerb, the derelict and the revamped site, the deep history and event-nature city, sit side by side, dance arm in arm and our perceptions of who we are, and how we are, somehow knitted into the fabric of where we are.
The map is a moveable feast and will grow over the next year. Our thanks to all contributors to date.
Get in touch with the (Y)our City Centre project team if you have an idea or issue you want to discuss to improve these four city centre Districts. And keep contributing thoughts and suggestions on the Commonplace website.
Peter McCaughey is the Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle.
As Lead Artist of WAVEparticle Peter has curated and delivered artwork for temporary installations and permanent commissions, as well as leading on community animation, place-making and masterplanning projects across the UK.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any enquiries.