RTPI President Stephen Wilkinson praised the talent and hard work of planners in Scotland on a recent visit when he witnessed first hand an impressive range of projects - from inner city regeneration and large-scale housing projects in Glasgow to dark skies-friendly forests in Dumfries and Galloway.
Glasgow City Council Head of Planning Forbes Barron and Head of Housing and Regeneration Services Patrick Flynn accompanied Mr Wilkinson on a tour of several Transformation Regeneration Areas. These include the New Gorbals and Lauriston Regeneration Area, the former Commonwealth Athletes’ Village, and Sighthill.
One of many new housing projects in Glasgow
He also visited Port Dundas where the council is creating an ‘urban sports hub’ consisting of a water sports centre linked to the Union Canal and other centres for climbing, parkour and skateboarding.
Mr Wilkinson said:
“Glasgow’s housing problems are well documented but what is less well known is the scale, thoughtfulness and ambition of the programme to address them. The quality is self evident in much of what I saw, from site layout and building materials to the replacement of high-rise blocks with mixed-use low and medium rise forms.
“What struck me is also the way the Council is focussing on retaining Glasgow’s high quality graduates and talented young people by looking at providing more decent and centrally located private rental accommodation.”
Dumfries town centre
In Dumfries, Chief Planner Steve Rogers, former Convenor of RTPI Scotland David Suttie and Head of Development Plans Shona McCoy showed Mr Wilkinson the council’s vision to regenerate the town centre. They stopped at sites for which there are plans to revitalise the high street and discussed the impact of relaxing rules to allow a change of use from retail in response to high vacancies.
Mr Wilkinson was a given a virtual experience of how an innovative flood defence system along the river Nith, part of the town centre masterplan, would work. He also visited the Royal Infirmary, a new hospital completed in record time that now serves a large and dispersed community.
The President also saw how the Council put into practice its own lighting policy in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park which has seen visitor numbers rise significantly in just a few years.
Mr Wilkinson said afterwards:
“The skills of planners have been put to diverse use in Dumfries and Galloway, from enhancing its rich heritage and natural assets to improving the public realm and finding new ways to boost the local economy.”