Green Infrastructure Project Update - In conversation with … Pauline Fletcher, Southside Housing Association
On the first Saturday of October Glasgow’s Southside Housing Association will officially celebrate the completion of the ambitious works to transform greenspaces adjacent to Moss Heights high rise flats. We asked Pauline Fletcher, Community Programmes Manager, to tell us a little bit about the journey from bland amenity grassland to vibrant community asset.
There must be a huge sense of pride completing such a complex project?
Yes, there certainly is. We are delighted that the site is open and that people are using and enjoying it. Officially everything is complete, but, as anyone involved with a big project will tell you, there are often what house-builders call snagging problems to resolve. There are a few areas which don’t look the way we want them to, so we have a few tweaks to make. For example, the drainage in the kick around area isn’t quite working so we plan to make some changes there.
What’s the local reaction been to the new park?
Very good. In some respects, our timing was perfect. The pandemic lockdown meant that for so long we could only stay on our doorsteps. So having the park ready to use was a massive bonus. People were out every day using the space, and it was really well used. Now that things are gradually relaxing it’s really great to see that they are continuing to use the park.
What aspects of the park do people most appreciate?
The two main things are that parents appreciate that their kids have somewhere good to be locally, the other real positive has been the removal of the road from the front of the flats. Coming out of the main entrance onto a new pedestrianised zone is really great, especially for parents who have young children who might be out playing on a bike or kicking a ball about. Those are the main two things which people are consistently positive about.
There is also a growing sense of care for the site. We do get feedback about people challenging those who drop litter or driving on areas they shouldn’t drive on. On the latter point we have a system in place for residents getting large deliveries or moving house.
Have you been successful in nurturing a community group that is going to embrace the space and look after it?
The Friends of Halfway Community Park were a key part of the whole process, especially during construction. But lockdown has thrown a spanner in the works. Understandably they had no meetings during the Covid crisis and not everyone was able to use video meetings and such like. However, now that we can again meet face-to-face, and that some form of indoor meetings are feasible, we will work to pull residents back together again and focus on what residents want from the park in the future.
There has been a lot of new planting on the site with a range of new trees, shrubs, and flowers. Can you tell us a little about them?
We planted over 3,000 square metres of wildflower meadow, beech hedging, a mix of shrubs, ferns, perennials and bulbs. In addition we planted up our rain garden which is not far short of 500 square metres, and put new trees into the site.
What kind of community activities have taken place?
The highlight has been our Southside Summer Connections programme which took place at the park throughout the school holidays, providing kids with healthy lunches and activities, and this was not only popular but fitted well with everything being a bit more outdoors to minimize risks. Having the space was great and we had around 60 kids each day plus their families, and that was two days a week throughout the school summer holidays. This was a nice organised use of the site, and given the informal use of the park by residents this meant the facilities were being well used.
Finally, Pauline, what can we expect from the park in the future?
I hope to continue to work with the Friends of the Halfway Community Park to plan events and activities and look at ways to continue to improve the space over the coming years.
The Green Infrastructure Fund Is part of the Scottish Government’s current European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, which runs through to 2023. This is one of two ERDF Strategic Interventions led by NatureScot – the other is the Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund .
You can follow the European Structural Funds blog for ESF activities, news and updates. For twitter updates go to @scotgovESIF or use the hashtags #ERDF and #europeanstructuralfunds