What does the Govan Graving Docks regeneration plan mean for Glasgow? Community concerns over developer explained

A new bridge over the River Clyde, ships once again docked in Govan after 40 years, and a new green space are all part of the regeneration plan - but one group has expressed their concern over the implications of the funding award
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A derelict site in Govan, once a cornerstone of the Clyde’s shipbuilding industry, will be transformed following a £2.4 million award from the low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme, however a River Clyde interest group has flagged some issues with the funding award.

The Govan Graving Docks have lay derelict for 40 years - when at one time they were one of the final stops along the Clyde for finishing up paint-work and repair of the ships.

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The award was granted by the Scottish Government to Glasgow City Council on the basis that the site will be turned into a green space by 2025 and will contribute to the upgrade of the Clyde-side walkway.

Further restoration of the historic dockyard will see it used for repairing ‘heritage vessels’, while a footbridge linking the site to neighbouring visitor destinations including the Glasgow Science Centre is planned once private sector funding is secured.

Councillor Richard Bell, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:“The Govan Graving Docks is a unique site in Glasgow, offering both a glimpse of the city’s past and a view into a future where we realise the potential of this remarkable Clydeside location.

“The very welcome announcement of £2.4 million funding from the Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme will allow work to dramatically improve the appearance of the site, create new public green space to be co-designed by the local community, and improve access and connections to Glasgow Science Centre.

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“The support announced today will hopefully act as a catalyst for future funding and the development of further stages in the regeneration of the Graving Docks.”

Also included in the plans is a wall of homes to be built alongside the southern edge of the site along Govan Road and Clydebrae Street.

The site has lay derelict for 40 years - and the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative group believe the current owner has not done enough to preserve the A-listed structure (Pic: Glasgow City Council)The site has lay derelict for 40 years - and the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative group believe the current owner has not done enough to preserve the A-listed structure (Pic: Glasgow City Council)
The site has lay derelict for 40 years - and the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative group believe the current owner has not done enough to preserve the A-listed structure (Pic: Glasgow City Council)

However one group, the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative (CDPI), has expressed ‘significant and extreme concern’ over the way in which the funds were awarded, primarily concerned with who the funds were awarded to and why. The derelict site has lay in the hands of private commercial developers for nearly 40 years, who CDPI claim have neglected the upkeep of the A-listed structures over the past 40 years.

A spokesperson for the social enterprise group said:”Seemingly the funding has been awarded without the site having passed into public ownership.

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“Instead it appears it is being awarded to the same private developer owner that has allowed the site to deteriorate for several decades. It will only partly restore some of the deterioration that has occurred due to failure to properly maintain the A-listed structures and quay walls in  compliance with historic environment policy and title deed obligations.

“As a result the cost burden has been shifted onto the public purse, at a time when deep spending cuts are being  made across the public and third sectors. 

“The work this award will fund is likely to enhance the values of private flats  the developer intends to build, but that will not create significant numbers of long-term jobs for  local people.

“We are extremely concerned at the way the elephant in the room - major housing plans for the site - have been downplayed or not mentioned at all in recent publicity.”

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In 2018, one of the site owners New City Vision lodged proposals for more than 700 flats, a museum, restaurant, shopping and office space, and a 195-bedroom hotel. However planning bosses rejected them due to a failure to preserve the site’s ‘special architectural and historic interest’.

According to the GOV.UK website, the current owners of the dry docks in Govan are Bishop Loch Developments (Scotland) Ltd, a subsidiary of New City Vision Group.

The spokesperson for CDPI concluded:“Many experts are of the opinion that the graving dock site itself as a land asset is worth a lot  less than this award amount in its current condition and without planning consent.

“Therefore there must be clear answers both on the public and community benefit this award will lead to and on the private profit it will help generate for private owners based outside the UK.”

A River Clyde preservation group has challenged developers on the awarding of funding for the regeneration of Govan Graving Docks.(Pic: Glasgow City Council)A River Clyde preservation group has challenged developers on the awarding of funding for the regeneration of Govan Graving Docks.(Pic: Glasgow City Council)
A River Clyde preservation group has challenged developers on the awarding of funding for the regeneration of Govan Graving Docks.(Pic: Glasgow City Council)
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The Govan Graving Docks regeneration project is just one of 15 transformational schemes sharing £10 million in 2023-24 from the Scottish Government programme.

Other successful projects include the creation of a community learning campus on the site of a former Midlothian coal mine, the decontamination and redevelopment of former military land at Cromarty Firth to enable construction of 93 affordable homes, the reuse of vacant and derelict buildings in Fife as an employment and training hub for rural green jobs and apprenticeships, and support for community-led food production in Clackmannanshire.

In response, Community Wealth Minister with the Scottish Government, Tom Arthur said:“The community has been fully involved in the design and development of the project as it has been taken forward.

“Once restoration is complete it will be transferred to the community to ensure more money stays within local economies.

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“The Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme represents value for money support for long-term regeneration. It is attracting further investment in wider restoration of this historic derelict site into a significant visitor attraction within an emerging River Park along the Clyde.”

New City Vision were contacted by GlasgowWorld for comment, but did not respond to the request.

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