Pollokshields Heritage

Chairmanís Report AGM 2010 presented at Pollokshields Burgh Hall 26th April 2010

  1. Maxwell Park station: The good news this year is that we were selected as runner up to Scotland’s Adopted Station of the Year 2009 for the refurbishment of the former booking office as a community meeting room and for sustaining a foral presence on the platforms. We have continued with efforts to press on with the regeneration of the station building through out the year and this has been through focusing attention on it via involvement in various events. We hosted two exhibitions in the community meeting room during 2009. The first, as part of Ready Steady Grow, was an Adopt- A- Station Exhibition illustrating the efforts at other Scottish stations including Weymss Bay, West Kilbride and Kilmarnock.  The second was a part of Glasgow’s annual Doors Open Day event when we hosted an exhibition of local built heritage including maps and sketches of prominent buildings. The station was also the stating point for walking tours for both events. We have also, with assistance of grant monies for Glasgow City Council’s South Area Committee, invested in purpose built heritage planters which have just been installed by Network Rail on the platforms and are currently being planted up in time for this year’s Ready Steady Grow event.  We are currently talking to First Scotrail and Network Rail about the installation of a water butt to assist with water the plants. As the station has no running water it makes watering the plants somewhat difficult!  Lack of water supply and more importantly drainage is the area that most frustrates progress towards the regeneration of the building so this is something we are continuing to pursue. We have also been approached by an artist with the aim of pursuing an art installation in the main part of the building at some point in the near future. It was hoped that this would be open in time for this year’s Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art but now looks as though it will be later in the year so please keep an eye out for that. Finally don’t forget that the meeting room is available to hire at a very favorable rates!

  2. Trees.  After the debacle of the Network Rail’s removal of the trees at various points along the Cathcart Circle we asked GCC’s Tree Officer Morna Henderson to attend a meeting to discuss the council’s strategy. Given how our avenues of mature trees add to the character of the Garden suburb and how important we know they are for urban health and well being we will be vigilant on this issue. We have also retrieved the digitized tree survey information previously supplied to the council in the late 90’s and it is our intention to look again at a tree survey of the conservation areas at a future point.

  3. Ready Steady Grow 2010. Building on the success of the 2008 and 2009 events we are taking part in Ready Steady Grow 2010 which will take place on Sunday 6th June with activities spread across the neighbourhood as before, and local environmental action groups and organisations providing information, consultation opportunities, guided walks, plant stalls, and tearooms.

  4. Leslie Street Greenspaces.  Again we remain committed to this and have recently been re-approached by the Leslie Street Greenspaces group regarding support. As I noted last year this formed a main element of our objections to the draft City Plan 2 as we had argued that the policy zoning for these Greenspaces should be changed from DEV 2 Residential and Supporting Uses to DEV 11 Greenspace to ensure that they cannot be built on. Alas even though we managed to secure a site visit the reporter supported Glasgow City Council and felt that the DEV 2 designation offered sufficient protection under the Supporting Uses part of the policy. However the greenspaces group and BE+ Architects have continued with their efforts with a steering group including City Design Adviser Gerry Grams being set up. That said they have been frustrated in further progress regarding lighting proposals through a lack of response from Land and Environmental Services and it is with a possible grant application for lighting that they are looking for assistance. It would be nice to think that something could be done to improve the amenity of these spaces in time for the 160th Anniversary of Pollokshields.

  5. City Plan 2 The new City Plan was adopted as of January this year and I have to report that my earlier comments regarding the outcome of the public inquiry set the tone of the remainder of our objection most of which have, frustratingly, been rebuffed. And though the recession may have slowed down the development of the area between East Pollokshields and Port Eglinton the lack of a masterplan to give a clear coherent idea of what this part of Glasgow could be remains a concern.  To give an idea of how fluid development of cities can be and how the British planning system tends to be reactive rather than pro-active we recently heard that the developers for the large bus station site at the corner of Victoria Road and Butterbiggins Road have dropped their proposal for a large residential development and are instead currently carrying out community consultation for an alternative proposal of a  large 100,000sqft plus supermarket, with petrol station, possible restaurant unit and associated car parking  presumably to take advantage of passing traffic on the new M74 extension. The future of this area could be rather different to what was envisioned only 18 months ago. Consulations on City Plan 3 are currently under way.

  6. West Pollokshields Conservation Area appraisal. After almost a 5 year wait the draft conservation area appraisal for West Pollokshields appeared in May 2009. Comments on the document had to be with the council by 31st July 2009. We reviewed the document but felt that it was weak in certain key areas including Trees and Lighting. However what was most frustrating for us was that at the City Plan  Public Inquiry we had been assured by council officials that many of our objections would be addressed by the appraisal document. In the event we felt let down as the draft did not address these points. Consequently we took a fresh look at the whole issue and with Iain Dyer and Helen Barnard leading the charge drafted out our own conservation area appraisal in time for the deadline. The key departure from the council’s document was that we argued that the conservation area boundaries should be entirely rethought and that West and East Pollokshields should be reunited as a single conservation area. Our thinking was that the two areas were set out under the same masterplan, developed at the same time, involved many of the same architects and builders, and are stylistically identical.  The sole difference is typological. Our argument was that the areas should be seen as two sides of the same coin and this was an opportunity to overcome an artificial and largely political difference between the two. If conservation areas such as the Grange and Inverleith in Edinburgh can include both tenement and villa why can’t Pollokshields? Sadly this suggestion was rejected by the council with little explanation offered. Indeed even though the council response said they would take some of our commentary onboard and beef up areas of the appraisal accordingly we do not know if this happened. The appraisal was adopted by the Council Executive in March of this year but the final version has disappointingly not been made available to us nor, as yet, is it available online.

  7. Lecture Series. A key part of our constitution is education; in this regard we have established as an experiment a lecture series during the winter and spring months with new committee member Roger Millar leading the charge. So far this has been a reasonable success with attendance numbers slowly building and we are keen to encourage more of our members and local residents to attend. The talks have taken place in Hutchesons’ Grammar School’s Fotheringay Centre and so far we have head from Alan Pert architect for the Tramway reconstruction and the ongoing Govanhill Baths, local artist Dai Vaughan on the House for an Art Lover Gesso Panels, James Cosgrove former deputy head of the Glasgow School of Art on the Art Park at Bellahouston, tonight we have Rosemary Watt, and on 27th May we have Judith Bowers on the restoration of the wonderful Britannia Panoptican . The series has been most enjoyable.

  8. Website. Having interviewed several consultancies with an eye to a complete overhaul of the website we have thought again about the matter and have decided to adopt a lower key gradual overhaul of the website which is being led by new committee member David Hart. It is very much a work in progress but if you go onto the website you will notice the gradual changes that David has instigated as we adapt and refine the site to meet our needs. We have also migrated the site from our previous host to a new one that is not only cheaper but offers us vastly more memory. This means that we can now start hosting archives of images and larger documents.

  9. Future Plans. With Pollokshields’ 160th anniversary next year there are several items we are actively pursuing. These include:
    1. Collaborating with Glasgow City Council on a Pollokshields Heritage Trail leaflet to be produced in time for the anniversary. The leaflet would be similar to those the council has already produced and would involve a series of illustrated walks around the suburb.
    2. Possible collaborations with the pupils of Hutchesons’ Grammar School. We have had several meetings with Hutchie on areas for potential collaborations including a potential pod cast to accompany the Heritage Trail and a possible update of the tree survey or other environmental improvements around the area.
    3. A larger exhibition to celebrate Pollokshields’ built heritage that would build on last years’ Doors Open Day exhibition and would demonstrate the history, value and quality of the UK’s biggest and best planned garden suburb.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the other committee members for their support in particular, Iain Dyer as deputy chair, Hilary Stanger our treasurer who again has the patience of a saint and always goes the extra mile, Janet Brand our secretary, Karin Currie our newsletter editor, both Karin and John Thomson for their work on Maxwell Park Station, Ann Laing for being our station gardener, both Hilary Stanger and Evelyn Lennie for organizing newsletter deliveries, David Hart for his work on the website, Roger Millar for helping orchestrate the lecture series, and Helen Barnard  our planning convener for the time it takes to review all the planning submissions over the course of the last year in the conservation areas and  to both Helen and Iain Dyer for their work on our response to the draft West Pollokshields Conservation Area Appraisal.

I also wanted to say a word about one of our founder members Cordelia Oliver who passed away this year but who was a well known Glasgow figure a hugely influential figure on the Scottish Arts Scene and will be much missed. 

Finally it falls to me to introduce the speaker for tonight’s AGM lecture; Rosemary Watt Senior Curator for the Museum of Transport, formerly Keeper of the Burrell Collection and Curator of European Art and Design will be doing an illustrated talk on “The New Riverside Museum” which is gradually taking shape on the banks of the Clyde and its opening next year is much anticipated.                                    

Niall Murphy 26th April 2010