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Breathing Life Back into Glasgow’s Unsightly Sighthill

Unsightly Sighthill before its transformation
Unsightly Sighthill before its transformation
Formerly a sink estate riddled with heroin addicts that trapped residents in unsightly high-rise apartments, Sighthill in Glasgow is being transformed in what has become the largest regeneration project in Scotland. With the transformation of Sighthill, so the prospects and the futures of all residents are being vastly improved.

Sighthill in Glasgow was originally built in the 1960s as an estate to be proudly populated by those employed in the area’s industries.

Following the tragic and relentless decline in employment opportunities in Glasgow however, the scourge of heroin and ultimately a deterioration in living standards, Sighthill became a sink estate.

What’s more, as Sighthill was made up of high-rise flats and high-rise living became unfashionable, the entire area fell out of favour on all levels with local residents from the 1970s onwards.

Life on the estate became terrible for many, and is described by one former resident thus:

“It became intolerable – we had people shooting up in the close, in the lifts, no-one was working and a lot people were getting wasted. There used to be a morning rush commute in the flats – a rush to get the lift, to get to the car park and then to get to work, but that all stopped when no-one had jobs. I knew me and my son had to get out of there. High rise living was no longer conducive to family living.”

Demolish the Past to Build a Future

Whilst the demolition of any building can be seen as a levelling of history for many, in Sighthill’s case it’s truly hoped that the demolition of the estate’s tower blocks can instead be seen as a new and better, more prosperous and appealing beginning.

The demolition of Sighthill has been documented by award winning photographer and filmmaker Chris Leslie. His Disappearing Glasgow multimedia documentary project is fascinating, visually thrilling and certainly worth a look.

Through his work Chris Leslie brings to life the stories behind the estate, and he awakens in us all the hope that the regeneration of Sighthill will indeed breathe new life into this once forgotten corner of Glasgow, and grant a positive future to all residents.

From Chris’s work we can see and read about how Sighthill deteriorated from being a once prosperous home to over 7,500 people, to a real no go area of the city. And we can begin to understand why the regeneration, the reawakening of Sighthill, is an incredible and very worthwhile vision.

A Vision of the Future for Sighthill

Thanks to Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and the Scottish Government, the transformation of Sighthill is now becoming a reality, and it is already being changed from an unsightly sink estate into a massively improved residential district with: –

  • high-quality private and affordable housing to rent
  • a new school campus with community facilities
  • improved parkland, allotments and public spaces
  • a new iconic bridge to provide a safe and attractive connection across the M8 linking Sighthill with the nearby city centre
  • and a new road bridge across the railway to provide access between the local community and Port Dundas
The transformation of Sighthill in Glasgow
The transformation of Sighthill in Glasgow

Long overdue remediation work has also begun to tackle land contamination issues from the area’s industrial past that left a legacy of a unique smell in Sighthill, which further added to its lack of appeal.

The transformation of Sighthill is the largest regeneration project in Scotland, and as such it really is worthy of comment.

At Voxurban we’ve been so impressed with the plans, the implementation of change, the speed at which work is progressing, and the overall vision for the completed site, that we wanted to showcase it for you.

Sighthill is Just One of Glasgow’s Transformational Regeneration Areas

Maryhill, East Govan, Red Road, Laurieston, Gallowgate, North Toryglen, Shawbridge and Sighthill are 8 areas of Glasgow that the City Council, Glasgow Housing Association and the Scottish Government have agreed require massive, transformational regeneration.

However, Sighthill wasn’t actually due for transformation work to begin until the late 2020s.

Following a sadly failed bid to bring the 2018 Youth Olympics to Glasgow, where Sighthill would have been the Athlete’s Village, the development work has been brought forward because all of the plans were also completed much sooner than expected.

This of course means the work will be completed much sooner – music to the ears of all affected we’re sure. The nature of the work is such that there is already a certain amount of disruption to all in the area, but the majority of work is expected to be completed within the next 5 years.

Many residents have already been accommodated in new and improved housing, and the new school which will replace the nursery, St. Stephen’s and St. Kevin’s schools is due to open in 2019.

A £250m Mega Plan – But Who’s Paying Post-Brexit?

So far 141 social rented homes for Glasgow Housing Association have been delivered as phase 1 of the £250m mega plan for the transformation of Sighthill moves to completion.

The future will bring:

  • Extensive site wide remediation and infrastructure works
  • Approximately 650 new homes for sale and alternate tenures
  • An alternative site for development, e.g., student accommodation or other use
  • A new community campus school
  • Commercial facilities
  • And as mentioned, a new pedestrian bridge improving connectivity across the M8 motorway and a new road bridge linking the area to the north and west of the city
  • There will be much improved parkland and environment quality, as well as allotments and large amounts of public space, including a new public square

But, post Brexit, can Glasgow continue to afford its transformation?

The good news is the work is being funded by the Council, Glasgow Housing Association and the Scottish Government, and Sighthill is also benefitting from the City Deals programme, therefore it’s expected that all plans for the massive site will come to fruition.

Learn More About the Changing Face of Glasgow

All stakeholders in the Sighthill project and all those involved in the greater Transformational Regeneration Areas projects are committed to information sharing and involving the communities affected by the works.

As such Glasgow City Council, the TRA, GHA, Scottish Government and community associations have extensive information available via websites, newsletters and city events to inform Glaswegians about the changing face of their city.

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