A Visit to the Gorbals, Glasgow

2 06 2011

By Scott Gibson

During a trip to Scotland in my Easter break, I drove over to Glasgow to look at an example of the development of a neighbourhood centre as part of my supermarket led regeneration design thesis.  My decision to go there was influenced by the project being referred to in a study on retailing, sustainability and regeneration as a good example of a design led development.

The Crown Street Regeneration Project is based on a masterplan produced in the 1990s to redevelop a former area of social housing which was unaffectionately  referred to by locals as the ‘dampies’.   The key features of the masterplan was for new development to be based on traditional tenement blocks, enclosing private communal gardens and to include retail, community facilities, a hotel and business premises.  One of the key objectives was to introduce a traditional street pattern with new retail units, including a supermarket, fronting onto a ‘high street’ (which is actually Crown Street itself).  The housing by its nature of being developed in tenement blocks would create a density high enough to support these facilities, whilst the mix of uses would create the diversity necessary to attract new people to this area.

Unfortunately my vision of seeing a supermarket, nicely designed and integrated within a high street  environment was horribly dashed when I arrived to see a ‘box’, albeit one which had some other retail units along the Crown Street frontage.  The rest of the development has blank walls to the side and an empty car park, service bay and rear entrance in the space between the development and adjacent major road.  Thankfully, other retail units had been integrated well into new housing blocks facing Crown Street.  Since I returned, further reading has allowed me to discover that the masterplan had planned for a supermarket with a rooftop car park to give the height and scale to Crown Street in a similar way to its tenement block counterparts.  Unfortunately, the good intentions of the mastreplan were sacrificed to attract developer interest and this highlights the importance of ensuring that a masterplan can be delivered after it is produced.

The Co-op, Gorbals, Glasgow, facing Crown Street

Unattractive Rear Entrance and Service Area

Smaller retail units have been integrated well within new tenement style housing blocks

Carley, M., Kirk, K. and MacIntosh, S. (2001) Retailing, Sustainability and Neighbourhood Regeneration, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Tiesdell, S and MacFarlane, G. (2007) ‘The Part and the Whole: Implementing Masterplans in Glasgow’s New Gorbals’, Journal of Urban Design, 12(3), 407-433

The People’s Supermarket

1 06 2011

By Aaron Murphy

I was really taken with a TV Programme that I saw recently; The People’s Supermarket. Perhaps the reason for my interest stems from the fact that I am a student struggling to get by on under £20 a week! This year I have really noticed an increase in food prices especially in comparison to two years ago when I was an undergraduate. Therefore, early on in semester one I made a pact with myself; not to shop at Tesco! I dread to imagine the percentage of my student loan that I spent in that oh so conveniently located Jesmond store. This year, bar the occasional rummage around supermarket bins with a few friends of a Sunday evening (didn’t you know? it’s all the rage these days – you never know what treats await your dangling hands!),   I have done the majority of my shopping at the Grainger Market, and it is not only my purse that has reaped the benefits. I have found the vegetables to be of a higher standard, the staff a delight to talk to and I have always left feeling as though I have done something to help the independent business person.

Herein lays the motto at the heart of the Peoples Supermarket; ‘For the People by the People’. The concept is simple: members of the community get involved by working voluntary shifts at the supermarket, and in return prices drop. The concept is not new. This kind of thing is going on at much larger scale in cities such as New York.  However, it would be great to see a growth of this kind of community action across England. For this reason I thought a ‘Peoples Supermarket’ would work wonders at our sustainable masterplan for the Freight Depot Site. Let’s hope ideas such as this actually go ahead and don’t get trampled upon by greedy developers!