Published On: Fri, Feb 10th, 2012 at 6:04pm

Passionate public debate about future of Shawlands Town Centre

Around 90 members of the public gathered for a passionate debate on the ‘Future of Shawlands’ and the Shawlands Draft Town Centre Action Plan at Shawlands Academy last night.

Litter was discussed again and again by those present at the meeting.  Shawlands was called ‘filthy,’ ‘manky,’ and ‘a dump’ by residents upset with the amount of litter being left in the town centre.

Led by the former Chair of Shawlands & Strathbungo Community Council, Scott Mackay, the meeting was also attended by Councillors Kahlil Malik, Archie Graham, David Meikle and Paul Coleshill.   Council Planning Officers Tim Mitchell and David Dunlop were also there and they outlined the history of research and consultation which has led to the current draft Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan.

The Town Centre Action Plan seeks ‘to re-establish Shawlands as the Heart of the Southside, by balancing the needs of place, people, businesses and sustainable living’.  Using a holistic approach to address the challenges the district faces, it hopes to ‘ensure that Shawlands is  desirable place in which people can choose to live and invest.’  One sobering fact from the plan was ‘of the 20,990 residents in the catchment area, only 3000 consider Shawlands to be their main centre.’

Last night was a chance for public concerns to be heard and debate concentrated on the more visible issues facing Shawlands, such as litter, the vacant shop fronts, parking fees and the Shawlands Arcade, long considered to be an eyesore.  While Arcade management were said to be trying to attract investment, with Sainsbury’s potentially planning to open a shop there once more, opinion was divided on what should be done to address this ‘anchor’ of the town centre.

Andrew Montgomery, Chair of Shawlands & Strathbungo Community Council, was very pleased with how the meeting went.  “I thought it was really good.  There were a good number of people here.  People are really passionate about Shawlands; I think that again came across.   But there are some fundamental basic things.  People have said the streets are dirty, they need to be cleaned. People have been saying that for years.  What do you need to do to get that message across to the Council?  I mean how often do people need to say the streets are filthy?”

He is keen to see how the Action Plan develops.  “The really important thing,” he said, “is that the Draft Action Plan is there, the consultation is just finishing.  We’ve got to see an Action Plan that comes out with action points.”

He would like to see specific commitments on service delivery met.  “We’d like to see a service delivery for cleansing.  So the streets will be swept by 8 o’clock each morning.  There’ll be a further sweep at 3 o’clock on the afternoon on these days.  We’ll monitor that for six months and see what standard that sets.  We’ll revisit it and see whether it’s the right standard.”  He also believes that the street furniture and signage in Shawlands needs to be looked at, and that local businesses must play a part.  “The Businesses Association are talking with  firms to say ‘well if we all put a hanging basket up each, it will cost us £30 each but what a difference it would make to the street.’

David Dunlop, from the Council’s Development and Regeneration Department, thought the meeting was very positive. He said:=”Litter’s clearly a major issue.  But we moved beyond that.  We started to talk about the nitty gritty issues, the challenges that it faces, so it was very positive.”

Dunlop has high hopes for the Town Centre Action Plan and wants the Shawlands one to “set the standard” for future action plans in Scotland.  He continued:- “I want to go beyond simply physical regeneration and think about it in a holistic way.  Nice pavements won’t solve anything.  Litter won’t solve everything.  It’s about looking at the broader sense, trying to tackle it across all the series of different mechanisms. And that’s what is important.”

There is still time for those interested in the future of Shawlands to comment and contribute to the final Action Plan which might be published by May, if not before.  Dunlop strongly encourages involvement:- “We urge people to take the time to try to go through the Action Plan.  I know it’s a big read.  And I know that the supporting documents are even longer.  But it’s worth taking the time.  We want you to criticise.  We want you to take it apart.  You know, it’s too important.”

The meeting ended on a positive note and those present were able to talk further with the City Planners and local Councillors.

Referring to a point made earlier in the meeting when a member of the community encouraged the people of Shawlands to ‘take control, ‘Montgomery agreed, and said:- “We are community; we all need to come together.  I’m very much looking forward to get a shot of the power cleaner to clean the streets!  So I’ll be applying to get that on a Saturday morning and that will keep me busy on Saturday morning.”

The Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council meets the first Thursday of every month at 7.00pm at the Shawlands Academy.  The next meeting will be on Thursday 1 March 2012.

For a copy of the Shawlands Draft Town Centre Action Plan click here.

For a copy of the Shawlands Retail Study click here

For a copy of the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan – Health Check click here and then select ‘Completed consultations’ under Your Council.  The Health Check is listed there.

Click here for a copy of the 2009 Shawlands survey.

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