Report on the Planning History of Govan Graving Docks

A 20 page detailed report into the planning history of Govan Graving Docks that demonstrates redevelopment of the site for housing is not viable on a number of grounds.

The report also questions the historic role of public sector agencies and aims to identify lessons that can be learned from past experiences.


Executive Summary

The report will look in some detail, at the history of planning and development proposals for Govan Graving Docks, since the closure of the site as a working dock facility.

The core of our thesis is that an extensive redevelopment of Govan Graving Docks for residential and commercial use is not feasible on grounds of desirability/popularity, financial viability, technical viability, industrial/maritime heritage concerns and the A-listed status of the site. The information we have researched and collated in this report will serve unequivocally to prove that.

On the basis of research conducted in preparing this report; we have concluded that in order for a housing development at Govan Graving Docks to be financially viable, meet the exceptionally high infrastructure / site preparation costs and provide any return on investment for shareholders and investors – it would need to be an exclusive luxury development with property prices well above the average for the local area. Given the site is bounded by primarily social housing it is questionable whether this could be achieved.

The site has continued to lie derelict for 28 years despite several proposals for housing redevelopment having been put forward and later shelved for various reasons. We have concluded that housing/commercial proposals for such a prominent site as Govan Graving Docks would have gone ahead already had they any real viability and prospect of success.

The report also aims to raise questions of whether a private sector property developer is the most appropriate type of organisation to be entrusted with the stewardship of one of the most unique and significant maritime heritage assets in Europe.

We aim to demonstrate that Local Government strategy in dealing with Govan Graving Docks has in the past lacked objectivity, coherence and consistency in the time that the site has been derelict. Further that this has not aligned with stated policy objectives aimed at encouraging regeneration of the River Clyde corridor. Additionally the approach of the Scottish Government (formerly the Scottish Executive) and previously the Scottish Office prior to devolution has largely been passive. This report is not intended to level criticism at public bodies or officials but simply to identify lessons that can be learned from past experiences.

Clear opportunity to create a major maritime heritage centre at Govan Graving Docks was twice presented during the 1990s however there is no evidence that these proposals received the requisite municipal or political support beyond the granting of planning consent. This is an oversight that was particularly surprising given that Glasgow (once referred to as the “Second City of the Empire”) was once synonymous with maritime and shipbuilding industry. Yet the city does very little to preserve and promote its heritage.

The work of artists such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh is widely celebrated as part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and rightly so. But what too of the legacy of the shipbuilding pioneers and the graft of thousands of shipyard and dock workers?

Proposals to create a major maritime centre (along with a social enterprise hub) at Govan Graving Docks, that would draw visitors/tourists and contribute immensely to the local economy in the long-term, have emerged once again alongside a campaign that has drawn wide support. This has been coupled with a strategy to create social enterprise and micro business franchise opportunities for young and unemployed people from the Glasgow area, alongside proposed nature reserve areas, studio/workshop space, stalls and a facility for historic ship repair, replica build projects and skills preservation. The proposals are about much more than just maritime heritage and would transform Govan Graving Docks into a cultural hub and centre of community.

The greatest potential threat to the emerging opportunity to create a maritime park is the time needed for detailed proposals to be carefully formed and thus the potential for attempts to streamline the planning process and fast track the plans of housing developers – a scenario that could see Govan Graving Docks lost as an historic site permanently.

The full report and summary of key points are available at http://cdpi.org.uk/case_studies.htm

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