03 Mar 2014
Is the Scottish Government reducing its emphasis on the Clyde Corridor? Reading the most recent National Planning Framework (NPF) you would be forgiven for thinking so.
The NPF, Scotland's long term development strategy, explains where in the country the Government Economic Strategy will be delivered. It has an influence on planning decisions and, critically, on the investment decisions of the Government and its agencies. It's not a hugely visible document to the general public, but it says a lot about where in Scotland resources might go over the next five years at least.
Compare NPF3 to NPF2, which was published in 2009, and there are some stark changes in the importance given to the Clyde Corridor. For example, Clyde Waterfront, stretching from East Glasgow through Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire to the Erskine Bridge, was a National Spatial Priority in NPF2. It barely rates a mention in NPF3.
The same is true of Clyde Gateway in Glasgow's East End, and with the Commonwealth Games only five months away, that is quite frankly astonishing. Much of the physical legacy from the Games depends critically on follow through - just ask Barcelona or Manchester how much effort went into regeneration after their respective Games were over.
While there has been considerable progress, neither project is anywhere near finished. They were both launched, Clyde Waterfront in 2003 and Clyde Gateway in 2007, as 20 year projects.
Clyde Gateway remains a vigorous and visible operation, only last week opening the Red Tree Business Suites in Bridgeton, but the capital funding available to the project is rapidly disappearing. Clyde Waterfront is all but invisible, and I'm struggling to think of a project directly supported through it over the past three years.
What is so frustrating about NPF3 is the apparent underlying assumption that most growth will be in the East of Scotland, just at a point where Glasgow's economic tide has turned.
Recently Scottish Renewables issued a report by O'Herlihy and Associates acknowledging that Glasgow is the largest centre of employment for the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. Centres of excellence are also well established or emerging in advanced manufacturing, stratified medicine and future cities' management to name only a few, and the International Financial Services District has been a success.
We have the best opportunity in 40 years to crack the challenges of regeneration in the Clyde Corridor. So please Scottish Government, don't throw it away.