As you know, we have formal planning approval for the community hub building as issued by Glasgow City Council in 2017. We must proceed now to the next step i.e. to meet the “Reserved Matters” as specified in the City’s approval notification. Drawings are now being prepared by our architect to meet these reserved matters to the satisfaction of the City and, at the same time, the same drawings will form part of our submission for a Building Warrant to allow us to build the project. Having already consulted with some groups, we now have some useful and interesting ideas about how this building might be used in the future. However, we would like to engage with more people to think about what the community will use it for? Accordingly: –
1. The available space would be roughly the equivalent size of a primary school classroom for 30 children i.e. 780 square feet (28sq ft X 28sq ft) or circa 26 square feet per child. To help you a wee bit with this to gauge size, 26 square feet is roughly 1.6 metres X 1.6 metres. A large, well proportioned living room would be roughly 360 square feet to give you yet another measure.
2. Facilities already planned for included toilet for wheel chair users with nappy changing facilities, a standard toilet, a small kitchenette with storage, refrigerator, coat hooks, wall cupboards, a blackboard wall, etc. To allow ease of access for prams and wheel chair users there are gentle ramp approaches to the facility’s entrances.
3. The building would utilise, wherever possible, sustainable recyclable building materials and generate its modest power requirements from all available and affordable natural resources e.g. air pumps or ground source heat pumps or solar panels. It is also hoped to use a form of reed bed to recycle waste products. These measures really go without saying as it is the clear intention of the committee to make the smallest workable footprint on both the site as well as minimise any impact on the Wood and environment as far as our finances will allow. Economically as well as environmentally, all of these proposed measures make sense and dove tail with the mission for safeguarding the Meadow which is, quite possibly, a first for Scotland.
Please consider the following questions and your responses will be most welcome. The deadline for responses is Friday, 16th August at midnight.
The Children’s Wood have submitted a planning application for developing the existing shed on The Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow. You may have received a letter about this. The building currently stands at the Clouston Street Side of the land. We plan to upgrade this building to support community development. We plan to add on a small extension to allow us to work with community groups. This will not be a nursery area as suggested in the title. It will be a place to support our staff and volunteers, it will be a place that is dry and safe for schools and groups to leave bags and valuables when they come to visit, it will support community cooking sessions and other community activities.
Currently we have no running water, no electricity and no toilet. On top of this, our storage space is dark (since there is no electricity) and has no insulation, heating or structure for storage inside. Having a space that can be a multifunctional space for community use will allow us to meet these needs.
The Children’s Wood employ 4 staff as well as many sessional workers, we support the involvement of over 100 volunteers locally. Staff and volunteers help to manage the land and to involve community. Having the shed upgraded would make the conditions much more productive and supportive for staff and volunteers. Developing the shed will allow us to work with groups who currently find it difficulty to access the land such as some older people and those facing physical constraints. We hope this will build community and intergenerational connections.
The groups we currently run are:
You can see our plans on the attached pictures. If you want to find out more please give us a call on 07762029663
Join us for a day of tree planting in The Children’s Wood!
Saturday 18th November: 10am – 3pm.
Everyone welcome! Hot drinks provided.
Please bring your own lunch or snack and dress for the Scottish weather. Gardening gloves and sturdy footwear recomended.
– – We have received around 300 trees from The Woodland Trust and will be planting these following guidelines provided in our most recent tree survey.
Following the professional advice given our aim is to improve the biodiversity and wildlife habitats in The Childrens Wood. We will be planting trees and hedging packs that will improve the under-storey and soil quality of the woodland.
The tree survey is available on the land for anyone to read – you will find it hanging on the notice board. Please take the time to read through this if you have any queries. – –
And join us on Saturday to contribute to the health and sustainability of this precious woodland, watch YOUR tree grow as you visit for years to come.
Sadly, Jayson is leaving us and moving on to a full time permanent position in Fife. We’d like to send on our best wishes Jayson and his family who have played a part in meadow and wood life over the past few years.We’d like to say thank you Jayson’s hard work over the past few months in this job role. He has implemented some positive changes to the land which make the meadow and wood look even more amazing and he has encouraged more people within the community to get involved.
The Children’s Wood charity have secured £12,000 towards a paid salary for a Schools and Community Engagement Officer on North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood, and now we need to raise £4,000 more to make this job role a reality. Please help us to make this happen.
Our objections to the designation of the meadow and wood as housing land have been unreasonably ignored by the planning authority. The Local Development Plan has now gone for review to the Scottish Government with the recommendation to zone as housing. Our voice must now be heard by the Reporter in charge of this review. Please sign and share our petition to show the strength of opinion that the meadow and wood should be zoned as greenspace.
In the Glasgow City Local Development Plan, the Meadow and Wood have been designated as housing supply land, under issue H023. The local community has written numerous objections to this designation, arguing for H023 to be removed and the land designated as green space. The planning authority has responded to these objections, recommending no change to their designation. The summary below explains in brief the case for changing the designation to green space. After that, we argue against the planning authority’s response, demonstrating that the Council has failed to follow its own policy on sports pitches and failed to recognise the changed educational and community use of the Meadow and Wood.
The land in question has always been open space for educational and community use, and it should remain so. Twenty years ago and more, this use was sport-oriented – football, athletics and tennis. Re-purposed by the local community over a 20-year period of council neglect, it is now a wild natural space meeting 21st century educational and community needs: instead of sport, 15 local schools and nurseries within walking distance have been supported by community volunteers to use it to satisfy Curriculum for Excellence outdoor learning directives; multiple weekly volunteer-led activities satisfy Glasgow City Council’s own Play Strategy; and the local community use it as an “outdoor community centre”, growing fresh produce, exercising, and putting on community events. In the 1990s, housing on the site was rejected by the Council’s planners principally on the grounds of insufficient alternative sports facilities in the area. Now, the precedent of that rejection is as valid as ever – no suitable replacement can be offered for this unique, re-purposed, wild space. Far from being “surplus to requirements” as the Council seem to believe, the site is a vital irreplaceable part of educational and community life in this area.
Rebuttal of the planning authority’s argument to retain H023
The planning authority’s argument runs as follows:
1. The site is viewed as constituting red blaes pitches.
2. The 1996 Miller Homes planning application was rejected due to the lack of provision of alternative local sporting facilities to replace the lost amenity, as required by the sports pitch / open space policies in force at the time.
3. In April 2007, the Council’s Executive Committee approved the Sports Pitch Strategy Policy and Implementation Plan.
4. Using this Policy, the cause of the Miller Homes rejection has now been resolved, as follows. In November 2007, “the report” [unnamed and unreferenced] recommended that “the receipt from the sale of the Clouston Street site would be allocated to the upgrading of the existing North Kelvinside pitches” and noted that this decision was made “after consultation and agreement with sportscotland, in compliance with the requirements of Scottish Planning Policy.”
5. The Council view only recent activity on the site as community involvement in its management – referring to “temporary occupation”, and therefore not significant in this determination.
In summary, given that there is now an agreement on providing alternative sporting provision for the loss of the site, the Miller Homes rejection cannot be used in argument against housing on the land.
This is the principal argument made by the planning authority for including the site in the housing land supply for City Plan 3, to which we are objecting. The remainder of their lengthy argument refers to particulars of the current live application by New City Vision to build on the land and is as such irrelevant to issues of site designation in City Plan 3.
Rebuttal of the planning authority’s argument for H023 is as follows:
1. Section 8.5 of Glasgow City Council’s Sports Pitches Strategy (Release of Blaes Pitches) states:
It should be recognised however that sports pitches also act as informal recreational green spaces with value for amenity and informal outdoor use. Any proposals to dispose of sports pitches should be subject to consultation with local communities [our emphasis], and require a determination by Council that these pitch spaces are not required as part of any other open space function [our emphasis].
2. The planning authority claim that consultation took place with sportscotland, but according to the Council’s own policy and strategy, this is insufficient – “consultation with local communities” is required.
3. Nobody in our community can remember such a consultation taking place around 2007. We have asked our councilors to provide evidence of such a consultation, but they have not been able to provide it.
4. We conclude therefore that no such consultation ever took place.
5. Furthermore, according to Section 8.5, the Council is required to determine that the site is “not required as part of any other open space function”.
6. We are unclear how the Council made this determination. The Council view recent activity on the land over the last eight years as “temporary occupation”, perhaps of a semi-formal manner. However, they are clearly unaware that, from when the site was closed as a school sporting area, the local community was using it continually for informal recreation of exactly the kind referred to in the Sports Pitch Strategy. The Inquiry Reporter for the Miller Homes appeal noted in his point 13 that “with an increasing population, the current proposal will remove a valuable community resource. Despite the official view, this site was used regularly by local groups…”.
7. In considering the drafting of City Plan 3, assumably in 2013-14, it would be impossible to consider the site as not being used for “any other open space function.” It was a major venue in the West End Festival. It had won numerous awards. Local schools and nurseries were using the site regularly. Regular events and activities were being hosted by local volunteers. Raised bed allotments were in use. Local citizens used the site for informal recreation.
8. Finally, neither in 2007 nor now, could the site be construed to consist of red blaes pitches. The site was/is grassed over, containing hundreds of trees in many areas sufficiently tall and thick to be referred to as woodland. As such, the refurbishing of the North Kelvinside pitches using the receipt from the sale of this site cannot satisfy the precedent set by the refusal of the Miller Homes application in 1996 – that the local community should be properly compensated for the loss of this open space. Refurbished sports pitches already available to the community cannot be considered as a like-for-like replacement for a unique wild green educational and community space.
On the basis, therefore, of the Council’s failures to exercise its own Sports Pitch Strategy correctly and to recognise the site’s radically altered function for the local community, we call on the Reporter to remove H023 from the local development plan and to redesignate the site on the Glasgow Open Space map as Natural/Semi-natural Green Space or Permanent Green Space.
Wider Concerns with the Planning Authority’s response to our objections to H023
We are surprised that a large proportion of the planning authority’s response justifies the appropriateness of a single planning application live on the site – from New City Vision – and the Council’s intention for building on the site. We understand that the development of a City Plan lays the planning context within which individual applications should be considered. Indeed, the planning authority has rejected a number of our objections to the H023 designation on exactly this basis – that they would be addressed via the planning application process.
On this point, we reject the view that some issues can be left to the planning process. The current density of existing housing in this area can only rise, not fall, and so should be used during the development of a City Plan to determine whether additional housing in this area will have an effect on traffic, local services, pollution, and conservation areas. As noted already, the Inquiry Reporter for the Miller Homes appeal remarked in his point 13 that “with an increasing population, the current proposal will remove a valuable community resource.” That was in 1996. In the last five years, the local population has or will be significantly increased again, with the Queen Margaret Appartments development, the Oban Drive development, building on the old BBC site just off Queen Margaret Drive and the recent planning application on the site of the old North Kelvinside church on Kelbourne Street. No additional community resource provision has come with any of these developments.
The planning authority repeatedly uses the argument that the site has been on the housing land supply list since 1995, when the Council noted the land as surplus to requirements. However, the development of a City Plan should not depend solely on precedent, but, as argued above, on the prevailing needs and wishes of the community and the surrounding area at the time of development.
Additional arguments in the Inquiry Reporter’s rejection of the Miller Homes appeal have been overlooked by the planning authority in their response
· As noted above, the Reporter noted that significant recent building had taken place in the area with no open space compensation. This situation is exactly the same today – with the QM Apartments, the Oban Drive and BBC developments and the proposals in place for the old North Kelvinside church site.
· In his point 14, he notes that the proposed children’s play area should not be viewed as compensation. He writes “Although it is suggested that the proposed children’s play facilities would be available for use by neighbourhood children, that cannot be guaranteed. If the new residents require to maintain the amenity areas, they could resent use by “outsiders” and difficulties could arise.” The Council is still using the argument of a proposed play area as compensation. In a letter from the Chief Execute Annemarie O’Donnell to Patrick O’Grady MP dated 5th June 2015, she writes that “the application currently being considered does include a publically accessibly amenity and informal play area”. The area she notes is tiny and surrounded on all sides by the new development.
PAN 65: Planning and Open Space emphasises that, in preparing Open Space strategies which inform development plans, the open space needs and desires of the local community must be established. It notes that attention should be paid to the aspirations of all communities and interests including children. In the case of this site, the open space desires of the local community have so far been ignored.
Overall, we do not understand the Council’s apparent obsession to build on this site. It has never been built on and has always served local educational and community needs. For 20 years, in the absence of Council management, the local community has worked tirelessly to both maintain the site and find creative ways for it to continue to serve as an educational and community resource. These are not random, temporary efforts. Instead, this is a continuous community engagement, self-funded, resulting in the creation of registered charities and, most recently, the submission of their own planning application in an attempt to end the repeated barrage of action against their wishes.
Support the plans to keep North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood as a community woodland and garden, by writing or emailing Ian Briggs, quoting the reference number 15/01223/DC
Development and Regeneration Services
Glasgow City Council
231 George Street
Find out more about the Children’s Wood alternative here
You can also object to the New City Vision plans to build 90 residences on North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood. More information here
We believe that North Kelvin Meadow should be preserved as a wild space for future generations. As such we have begun work with a local architect on our own planning application. At the moment it is at a conceptual level seeking approval as ‘planning in principle’, submitted in response to the recent NCV application to show the council there is an alternative. Read more about this activity here; we are very conscious that this future vision should be one shared by, and relevant to, the community as a whole, and so are always open to comments and suggestions which can be submitted here (firstname.lastname@example.org). Current feedback is also provided based on our engagement events, and one to one discussions.