Mon 11 Dec, 2017

Allan Young

Glasgow City Council

Make sure you have your say and join the campaign to save the Govan Graving Docks from extinction.

If you have seen the Govan Graving Docks in the last 30 years you would be forgiven for not recognising what it was in front of you.

Described as “outstanding” and “without parallel in Scotland” by Historic Environment Scotland, the docks helped make Govan a global name. Despite being a hub of tremendous industry and enterprise for a century, the Graving Docks, or Dry Docks as they are also known, now lie derelict and abandoned.

But behind the scenes there are competing visions for the future of the docks which could see their story lost forever to expensive high-rise flats. That, in my opinion, would be a real loss, not just to the local community, but to the city as a whole.

Businessman Jim McColl has recently outlined plans for part of the site to be re-used for ship repair and maintenance. There will be a public consultation on this on Saturday 3rd February, which offers potential to see the site re-established as a working dock.

Alongside this, however, there is a much larger proposal for expensive, high-rise flats which, if accepted, would completely transform the site. Spearheaded by New City Vision, the proposals would see around 750 flats built, up to 14 storeys high, with space for houseboats.

But is this really the best development for this site? Can we not do better than that?

Given its history, the docks have so much potential to help put Govan back on the map, to create sustainable local jobs, draw visitors to the area and provide real benefit to the local community.

Sitting as it does across from the Riverside Museum, and next to the Science Centre, it would be an ideal location to draw in people and provide community space, whether as a museum, a learning centre, a working dock, a combination of all these things or whatever else we can imagine.

I recently spoke to a Govan musician who passionately outlined his idea of a music venue on the docks, supporting local artists and drawing in bands and tourists from across Scotland.

I don’t have a fixed idea for what the docks site should be but I do believe strongly this should be shaped by the community. We need a community-led process, where locals can put forward and discuss ideas, imagining what could be done.

Instead, all we have received with these proposals has been the usual limited and narrow community consultation which follows any private housing development.

Earlier this year Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie gaining support from MSPs across Greens, Labour, SNP and Conservatives with a motion calling for any new development on the Graving Docks to benefit the local community.

After the recent announcement, Patrick commented:

"The current plans from New City Property put profit before heritage and affordability for people in the local area with 700 luxury apartments standing 14 storeys high taking priority with a token to the local community in the form of a heritage centre. We’ve seen such promises before with the Clydebuilt Scottish Maritime Museum at Braehead now housing a drive-thru Krispy Kreme doughnut shop when the developer decided it was time for business to take priority over our local history.

"With calls for our role in the slave trade to be acknowledged and recognised properly with a slavery museum similar to the likes of Bristol and Liverpool, what Glasgow needs are more sites that commemorate our history, not less. And certainly not luxury apartments priced so highly that they are out of reach for the local community living in their shadow. We must protect the Govan Graving Docks place in Glasgow’s heritage before it is too late."

I would strongly recommend you have a look at the detailed plans submitted recently by New City Vision and judge for yourself. Click here to access the council website and search for reference: 17/02948/DC .  Please also let me know any comments you have on this matter, by e-mailing me at:

You have until December 20th to register your comments.

If these plans go ahead then there will be no turning back, and the story of the Govan Graving Docks will be consigned to history.


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