Yesterday, I took TBW on a grunderground train and went to an event aimed at turning the tide against materialism. “Enough’s enough, ditch the stuff” was supported, amongst others, by the National Trust for Scotland and Friends of the River Kelvin. Dr Carol Craig, from the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing addressed us in a scout hall just off Queen Margaret Drive.
The event was also perfectly located for people to get to know North Kelvin Meadow. This was a place I’d heard about, but never seen. Right in the heart of the West End, the meadow was used as tennis courts and football pitches for years. When the school they were attached to closed, they fell into disrepair. Football was still played on the red blaze, but there was no upkeep.
Then around 1996, grass was sown onto the ground, and trees were planted. I have no idea how it is possible for grass to grow on that surface, but yesterday the place was covered with grasses and wild flowers. In one corner, an outdoor kindergarten had set up in well developed woodland.
I’ll be going back to the Meadow – there are free events and a regular all weather playschool. However this precious little pocket of dear green is under threat. New City Vision, a property developer, has lodged a planning proposal to build ninety homes on the site.
The site has not been maintained by Glasgow City Council. Local residents clear litter from the site and manage the ecology. The full details are not yet available, but it’s thought that New City Vision could pocket as much as £600k per home for the higher end of the development.
The West End of Glasgow needs some things, but it simply does not need more luxury flats. Any time a site becomes available, the planning process seems to involve finding which commercial enterprise will pay the most for the privilege of building luxury accommodation.
People need houses. And as people acknowledged on Sunday, money talks. But in the past sixteen years the people of North Kelvinside have created a safe environment to learn with their child about plants, trees and wildlife. I would call that luxury accommodation. Except that it’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity.