The North Kelvin Meadow and Children's Wood is a wild outdoor space used by the local communities of Maryhill, Ruchill, North Kelvin, Hillhead and many more. Why? Because this is the last wild open space for adventurous free play in the area. We have manicured parks, yes, but only one wild space. Policies written by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government are pushing for outdoor learning for the young as a key foundation for resilience, creativity, well-being, learning and motor-coordination skills. A playgroup affiliated with the Scottish Pre-school Playgroup Association meets on the land weekly, and Forest School Clubs attracting the local schools are also operating. To satisfy outdoor learning policies, it is obviously vastly superior if the pupils can walk to the open space rather than requiring buses/cars etc. Further regular events are running on the land, created by the willingness and effort of the local community, attracting around 1000 per month. Local parents regularly bring their children here for the sense of freedom, for the lack of burger vans, to see the pure enjoyment of their children at play.
Click here for another video for giving the context.
Furthermore, much else will be lost if the land is built on: a natural habitat, a community meeting ground, a dog walking area, a bmx bike track, 25 raised bed allotment spaces and a community garden, a well-used composting facility, numerous fruit trees and bushes, and the opportunity to simply escape to a little patch of countryside for a few minutes in an otherwise busy day.
In the run-up to the Glasgow City Council Planning Application Meeting on this land, we have been told repeatedly by councillors that the sale of the land is a "done deal". How can it be? In a completely undemocratic "consultation" process, where local people were asked to vote for the least-bad of four proposals, with no fifth "don't build" option, the winning developer buys the land only if planning permission is granted. If this is a done deal, as so many are telling us, then the Council are making a mockery of the entire planning process.
There is national historic precedent against building on this land: in 1996, a Scottish Office Inquiry Reporter, called in to adjudicate on a developer's appeal to build on the land, ruled in favour of the land remaining open community space. The reasons that held then still hold today: no adequate provision of like-for-like space to the community; inadequate open space in the local area in the light of significant recent building work; very high levels of local community opposition to any building; supposed open space in building proposal obviously not a community space.
If the developer's application is successful, as it appears it is bound to be, we urge the Scottish Government to use its powers to "call in" this proposal. Calling in should happen when there is a significant change of use of the land and when there is a conflict of interest. Both situations hold here: the use changes from open community space to residential housing; Glasgow City Council both decide on whether the land is sold and are the recipients of the proceeds of the sale.