Glasgow City Council today (29 August) approved just over £3million funding for a number of projects which promise to regenerate a number of town centres in the city. These projects see a new community model of tackling food inequality, the renewal of historic buildings, and locally-led regeneration amongst the social and economic benefits that this funding will deliver.
This funding comes from the £50million Scottish Government Town Centre Fund, which aims to regenerate town centres across Scotland through capital expenditure projects designed to drive economic activity and create successful, inclusive and vibrant local town centres.
Glasgow has a diversity of town centres, with five major town centres and 30 local town centres, ranging from nationally significant shopping and leisure destinations to smaller centres serving local communities. They are often characterised as having a strong retail and office presence, with other services in the financial, professional, leisure/entertainment, and community sectors.
Glasgow's share of this funding must be allocated during this financial year, and projects have been selected for the social and economic impact they will make on these town centres, making them more sustainable, and their capacity to be delivered within the timescales set down within the grant funding.
The Glasgow projects selected for funding come in three categories: Pantry; Built Heritage; and Small Grants Scheme.
The town centre funding (£710,000) for pantries in Castlemilk, Govanhill, Parkhead and Ruchazie - at Braes Shopping Centre, Govanhill Baths, Parkhead Public School, and a shop unit on Gartloch Road - will help tackle food insecurity. The pantries model - an alternative to foodbanks - targets local people on low incomes / recovering from a crisis to invite them onto a subscription/membership model (typically £2.50 per week) which makes good-quality, healthy and nutritious fresh, chilled or frozen food available to them at substantially cheaper rates than elsewhere. The pantries in these four areas will be delivered in a partnership between the council and local agencies, and this will help to bring local inclusive economic growth. It is expected that these pantries will drive higher footfall in their town centres.
Funding is also being made available for historic buildings in three local town centres: Elderpark Library (£550,000), Parkhead Library (£450,000) and the B Listed Tollcross Winter Gardens (£1,000,000). This funding will help these meetings reach their full potential in terms of benefiting their communities - the libraries are currently being looked at with a view to repurposing them to act both as libraries and an enhanced community function. Tollcross Winter Gardens is currently derelict, and with the adjacent 'Millennium Building' scheduled for demolition to allow the building of a new Early Years facility, this presents the opportunity to bring the Winter Gardens into active use as a building that could offer both co-location options for a range of organisations and a link between the local town centre, the new nursery, Tollcross Park, and Tollcross International Swimming Centre.
The remaining £300,000 funding goes towards a small grants scheme which will support locally-led initiatives aiming to renew town centres, with a focus on Business Improvement Districts - the Saracen Street BID in particular - and traders' associations. Priority will be given to high SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) areas.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and City Convener for Economic Inclusive Growth, said: "The funding for these town centres - recognised as a key part of the city's social and economic life - will go to a range of projects that will make a real difference to communities and organisations across the city. From tackling issues around food insecurity and health to renewing local heritage and supporting local organisations in neighbourhoods facing the greatest challenges, we can look forward to these projects helping to regenerate Glasgow's town centres."
Over the last five years, the council has drawn on a number of funding sources such as the Glasgow City Region City Deal, developer contribution agreements and the Heritage Lottery Fund to assist with the regeneration of town centres, notably in the Barras / Calton; Easterhouse; Govan; and Shawlands.