• STV
  • MySTV

Flowers versus flats as the North Kelvin meadow campaign hits city chambers

Families, dog walkers, gardeners and local councillors protested against a housing development that threatens a Clouston Street community space.

Kelvin Meadow protest George Square
© STV

Dressed in woolly animal hats, sporting flowers and carrying home made placards, the demonstrators filed off their buses to form a throng on the red square across from the City Chambers in Glasgow.

A springlike sky defied the unseasonal cold, but there was no hiding the anger that burns within the community around North Kelvin, a gap site they affectionately dub their 'meadow'.

It's not a huge patch of ground, but it is in a location that makes it attractive enough to lure in developers who hope to create a new community of 90 modern flats on what's known as the Clouston Street side.

Once the site of two disused football pitches more abused by dog owners that 11 a side teams, the land fell into neglect, later declared surplus to requirements by the old Strathclyde Regional Council back in 1993.

It was never declared a greenfield by the current city council, planning officers instead realising its potential for use for residential property in a metropolis deemed already short of quality housing.

Yet there it has lain all these years, until locals decided to adopt it as their own.

It started when some planted grass seeds across the 1.4 hectare site. It was followed by the odd allotment, flowers and shrubs being planted. It became a more pleasant place for a stroll and a children's wood.

Kids play there still, giggling away during their games of tag or hide and seek. Dog walkers still use it for their daily needs, but are careful to scoop up afterwards. The community have grown attatched to it.

They've grown used to it.

Which all goes some way to explaining why, now when someone else has shown an interest, a storm of protest has been whipped up by those who feel something is being taken from them.

That they will be deprived a patch of the dear green place they've learned to call their own.

It is why the vocal North Kelvin Meadow Campaign supporters chose the day of the full Glasgow City Council meeting to stage their latest a protest against its redevelopment, right on the city's own front lawn at the city chambers had such a thing still existed.

They arrived at George Square by 11.45am, megaphones at the ready and placards waving wildly. This was their chance to not just be heard but seen. Or so they hoped.

If nothing else, these campaigners know how to capture attention, winning the backing of politicians such as Patrick Harvie and celebrities including artist Alasdair Gray and comedian Frankie Boyle who have all publicly denounced the development plans for the area.

But this protest was different, this was all about the people who live there, who feel invested in the 'meadow'.

Teresa Lowe was there with her dog Tilly. She said: "We've used the meadow ever since Tilly was a puppy. She's two and a half now. But it's not just for dog walkers, this is a chance for Glasgow City Council to be imaginative and forward thinking.

Teresa and Tilly

"There's too many gap sites in the West End becoming over developed and it's a fantastic community resource. It's bringing everyone together - young people, old people, councillors are involved.

"It's a beautiful gap site, the West End has a lot of tenements, very high density population and these gap sites are getting overdeveloped."

Rachael Lyon, who protested with her daughter Eva Forbes, three, said: "We think it's a really really important space.

"I don't drive so we can't get out of the city very easily and there aren't wild spaces like that anywhere. Eva loves being able to play somewhere wild and free."

Bang on cue and a group of three children, there mixing with the adults, chanted "Save Our Meadow" through a megaphone. They laughed and told how much fun they had playing in the space, before being distracted by another game. Just like children do.

protest

Emily Cutts, chairperson of the Children’s Wood, argued that the wider social benefit to having an open area like this in the community outweighed that of commerce.

She said: "There’s absolutely nothing else like it. It’s not just a space – you are part of it. People talk, discuss, have conversations in a community like this.

"Some people grew up on the islands and they say they have the same feelings in the Children’s Wood as they did growing up there, knowing everyone in their community.

"We work with schools and one or two children said they hadn’t played outside all year, but they played on their Xbox. Nature is so good for adults too, it’s really positive.

"People say they feel relaxed when they bring their kids to playgroup."

Emily and a 40-strong team of Children’s Wood volunteers told how they help host events on the site, including readings from children’s books by famous authors and even reindeer visits at Christmas time.

Volunteers, they said, do everything from bringing home-baking, handing out flyers and ticketing events in order to keep the Children’s Wood alive.

They have now joined gardeners, dog-walkers and other supporters of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign in sending queries to Council Leader Gordon Matheson about plans to develop on the land.

"We want Gordon Matheson to answer the questions we’ve sent him," said Emily, "The presence of kids, campaigners, councillors and MSPs at the demonstration will say something about why the land is so important to the community."

"The decision could happen any day – but the developers need to provide more information. It’ll rip the heart from the community, there’s nowhere else the community can meet."

The site was recently awarded third place in the Scottish Civic Trust My Place Awards, a competition that recognises the buildings, landscape and civic projects that make a positive impact on local communities.

While a recent survey carried out by Glasgow University resulted in 93% of locals voting against the build. The results of the poll will be sent to the planning officer, developers and the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign.

"The Glasgow University vote goes to show the level of support," said Steve Greenland, a father-of-one and Secretary of the Children’s Wood, "We didn’t have an active campaign.

"We suspected the result would be in our favour but we didn’t know there would be such strong support from people in the local area. It shows people value the land so much."

The council says nothing has changed over its intentions, having included an element of housing in any use as part of all its most recent development charters.

It argues monies raised from the sale have been reinvested in the community, developing other play areas, and that any offer was in the best interests of the cash strapped local authority and city it serves.

They also stated that current plans have already been subject to some widespread consultation, including a day devoted to the local community.

They previously explained in this story by STV Glasgow, the background to the planning process surrounding the area.

The flats application would be considered in due course, a spokesman said.

But the campaign looks like it may continue for sometime yet.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.