A letter to Angela Constance MSP who will make the decision on the NCV Ltd planning application.

This is a letter from Julian Hoffam to:

Angela Constance MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security & Equalities
St. Andrew’s House
Regent Road

September 8th, 2016

Dear Ms. Constance,

I’m currently writing a book called Irreplaceable to be published by Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books, which explores those places of great significance – to both wildlife and human communities – that are increasingly being lost from our immediate surroundings. It examines what those losses might mean in terms of a diminished sense of belonging, wonder and experience in our lives. As part of my research I travelled to Glasgow in June 2016 to spend four days in North Kelvin Meadow and the Children’s Wood in order to hear the story of this threatened place for inclusion in the book. I wanted to understand, as best I could, the deep connections that have been forged between local people and those transformed municipal football pitches. I wanted to get a sense of what the place, as it is now, means to them — and what its potential loss would entail. In the end, however, I returned home from that journey having learned more about gain than loss, seeing first-hand the extraordinary and wide-reaching benefits that can be attained when positive communal efforts transform not only a place but also the lives around it.

I’ve travelled to many parts of the UK and other regions in the world over the three years that I’ve been writing this book, and in all that time I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced a place that evoked so much immediate joy and tangible sense of community as the one currently under threat in Kelvinside, a testament, I believe, to the passionate and selfless work done on its behalf by a large and diverse number of people in the area. Their efforts are commendable particularly because they are communal. To see a place so clearly loved and enjoyed by so many is a reminder of the great potential for community in urban areas, a well-spring of opportunity that so often goes untapped for countless reasons. This was immediately apparent in the network of friendships that have sprung up around the meadow, in a part of the city where many neighbours, as I was told more than once, had little or no connection to one another prior to the transformation of the place and the campaign to preserve it. The meadow is the hinge on which so many other things open; without it, like the loss of a village square of old, an inimitable link would be broken.

Alongside its value as an important natural space in the city, where forest school classes have been immensely successful and bats swept above the meadow at dusk during my stay, part of the beauty of the North Kelvin Meadow is its inclusivity. There is a belief that it belongs to all. Nowhere have I interviewed a group of teenagers who proudly spoke about having such a personal stake in a place, honestly revealing that without it they would in all likelihood be hanging around city streets and alleys at night. Nowhere else have I been told by a young girl that a wood felt like the safest place in the world to her outside of her home. “I can feel free here,” she said as we sat beneath the gleaming birches of the Children’s Wood, the laughter of other children ringing through the air around us. And nowhere else have I known a man in his 70s who, for many years and without acknowledgement, pay or being asked to, has quietly gone about cleaning the rubbish bags from the meadow each day as his way of making a difference to the place – time and commitment being his personal investment in its fragile future. This is a place that brings out and sustains the best in people – enabled by the freedom of its space to feel at home while being supportive of others through its inspiring co-operative history.

This vision of openness and inclusion has engendered a remarkable degree of respect for the place from its various users and cultivated a sense of duty and care within the community as a whole. It’s a timely reminder of what our finest civic spaces should aspire to. At any given time I could find dog walkers, book readers and chatting parents in the wood. An hour later I might find myself talking to elderly, working-class gentlemen out for a stroll, or older, middle-class ladies who’d arrived having heard they could see wild orchids in the meadow. An hour after that I could speak to those teenagers I mentioned earlier, squatted beside their bikes and smoking cigarettes, or sit around a firepit and listen to people sharing stories and strumming guitars. And come morning I could walk with children through the leafy, sunlit wood and be able to peer for a few moments through a magical window of possibility as they described with their own eyes, words and experiences what they loved about the place so much. In an age when social exclusion, nature deficit and health issues such as obesity and depression are still sadly common, the meadow is laudable for being a shared space in which people are able to come together and contribute in meaningful ways, exercise in a stimulating and welcoming environment, deepen friendships and make positive local connections, grow fresh vegetables and share in the healthy fruits of the community orchard, and explore the natural world in ways that can cultivate an entire lifetime of wonder for a child. These real and enriching possibilities are irreplaceable, the very bedrock of personal and societal well-being. For such a small urban place, transformed and maintained not by a government agency but by motivated and caring citizens, its benefits are beyond measure – a community space that a council should be immensely proud to have in its city.


Julian Hoffman

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Maryhill Road Football Pitches

After a recent meeting with Glasgow City Council it appears they will kick off a public consulation at the end of Sept 2016 on where to build an extra Primary School within the North Kevin area. They have 4 sites shortlisted but their preferred one is on the Maryhill Road footabll pitches at the corner of Maryhill Road and Queen Margret Drive. We don’t know where the other 3 sites are.

At the moment there is 1 full sized blasé pitch, 2 small blase pitches and 1 tarmac pitch.  Their plan will be to renovate the full sized pitch with a 3G surface and build a primary school , access road and car parking for the school on the rest of the land. The new full sized pitch will beable to be rented out to anyone that wants it i.e. it will have a seperate access point from the school. The existing nursery school building will probably be moved to another part of the land as the entry to the new primary school will probably be from where it is currently.

Red blasé as a footabll surface is not popular and most competitive games won’t be played on that surface. So the need to renovate the surface into a synethic grass (called 3G) is widely acknowledged as something that needs to happen.

Its worth recapping on some history regarding this site and the surrounding area. The Council did close some primary schools in the wider area some years back . The reason was a lack of kids for these schools. However the Council are now saying the 2008 credit crash has changed the demographics of this area. Now more familes are staying rather than moving further out of the city to raise a family. Council by law has to provide schooling for kids in its area. They also mentioned where they closed the schools isn’t exactly in the same area as they want to build a new primary school.

The Council say one of the advantages to building the primary school on this site is it means they have less admin costs to manging both the pitch and school. It also gets round the problem of getting funding to renovate the existing pitches as that would be tied up with funding for the school.

In 2008 there was a plan tabled and backed by the Council to renovate the existing pitches, build a club house with changing rooms, meeting rooms along with conference facilities for £3.5m. The Council has recently gone through the details of that plan and now state at todays prices it would be £5m. The original plan was built on £1m of that funding coming from the sale of North Kelvin Meadow which back in 1993 was a red blase football pitch. Today there is much support for keeping the North Kelvin Meadow and the Children Wood from being sold off for housing. Plus getting the balance i.e. the £4m is not seen as doable in todays financial environment. Hence why the Council is looking at the new prmary school for this land.

The North Kelvin Community Council (NKCC) at the same meeting with the Council had their own plans to renovate the Maryhill Pitches. This was described as essentially just renovating each of the exsiting red blasé pitches onto a synthetic 3G grass, provide fencing and goals posts. They have sourced a supplier that can come and do a turn key service on this i.e. one company will project mange it and hand it over once finished. In total for all 4 pitches that would come to about £600k. They said if funding proved difficult to raise for that amount they would propose renovating the small tarmac pitch first, which would be about £100-150k on its own. Then at a later date do the others.

The Council was asked if they had thought of renovating the school at the back of the Elephant Park for this new primary school. The current plans by the council are to sell that and the adjoining grass land off for private housing. This has caused many objections from locals in that area as they have also parceled in the actual Elephant park as part of that bundled proposed sale. Could they keep the Elephant Park and build the new primary school at the back of that? We’ll need to see come the public consulation at the end of Sept 2016.

No one has a crystal ball to show the future. Would Brexit have a bearing on demographics? The new primaty school isn’t expected to be built for 4-5 years.












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Significant news and its brilliant !!

Posted 22nd June 2016

There are basically two government appointed people (the role is called a Reporter) coming to a conclusion on whether the land should be sold for housing or saved. We’ve been informed today that the first one has concluded that the land should NOT be sold for housing. We’ve waited a very long time for this and it’s a great result! So well done all that have been campaigning and helping the land over the years. Some background on this decision: Glasgow City Council proposed a new City Development Plan (which all planning applications refer to) back in 2012, and loads of us objected to them labeling the land for housing. The Scottish Government appointed a Reporter to decide on those areas the public wanted something very different from the Council. Today the Reporter sided with you the people🙂

Ok lets get some context on this. Yesterday the second Reporter that’s been appointed said they would be having a public hearing and we will be heard at that in due course. That is to determine the planning application from New City Vision Ltd. The decision today is based what the land should be labeled as in the forthcoming City Development Plan. In short you’d expect both Reporters to come to the same conclusion, as they both will be looking at the same facts. But ofcourse lets not count our chickens just yet!🙂 We and others will be making as strong a case as ever at the forthcoming hearing. If you’d like to get involved with any aspect of managing the land or the campaign then do email in and let us know, we still need all the help we can get. But this goes down as a great landmark day!

Overall conclusions (copied from Government document and available on Council website)

I recognise that the development of this site for housing would make a contribution towards meeting the shortfall in the provision of land for new housing in the City, which we have identified as a deficiency in the Proposed Plan in Issue 17. However, the land at Clouston Street is a highly valued open space which is well used and maintained by the local community, and which should continue to be safeguarded for that purpose. Its development for housing would be in conflict with planning policies which seek to protect such areas. I have therefore decided to modify the Proposed Plan by deleting Housing Proposal H023.

Since the Proposed Plan does not designate open spaces I am unable to formally designate the site as an open space. It will be a matter for the council to reflect the outcome of this examination in its review of its Open Space Map, and in its Open Space Strategy (see Issue 6).

Reporter’s recommendations:

Modify the Proposed Plan by deleting Housing Proposal H023.


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Awaiting “Call In” decision.

Timeline of recent and forthcoming dates:

9th March 2016     – Scottish Government “ Calls In ” New City Vision Ltd planning application *

4th April 2016        – Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) receives application and will appoint a Reporter to write a report of recommendation to the Scottish Government.

27th Jun 2016        – Target Date for DPEA to have finished their report.

To be announced – Scottish Government Minister decides.

* “ The Scottish Minister have given this Direction in view of the proposed development’s potential loss of valued open / green space and possible conflict with Scottish Planning Policies and development policies. ”

We’re expecting Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities & Pensioners’ Rights will be the Minister that makes the decision.

In the meantime we continue to manage this land as we have for many years. Do let us know things you like and want more of and things you don’t.

The local community around the land has built up a good level of experience on how the land operates. So the message is;  if you feel there is anti social behaviour happening on the land then call the Police on 101 or in an emergency 999. They will come and sort it out. 

There is only “us” as the Council won’t come on the land. So thanks to all for cleaning up after themselves when having picnics etc. And especially a BIG THANKS to all those that clean up any items that are missed.

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Not since 1892 and Thunderclap.

When was the last time an area of 1.4 hectares of wood and meadow was created this close to Glasgow City Centre? The answer appears to be not since 1892, some 124 years ago!

There has been community gardens, resident gardens and allotments created but nothing like what we have here. We call the land a meadow and wood as that what it looks like and is used as. Here’s a list of nearby parks and when they were created: Ruchill Park 1892, Springburn Park 1892, Victoria Park 1886, Alexandra Park 1870 and Botanic Gardens 1817.

Why such a long time? Property developers and those that sell the land to them make alot of money from building on these pockets of land.

Lets make history and not let them get this piece!

Please sign and get 5 others you know to sign the petition. Thanks.

After the recent decision by Glasgow City Council Planning Committee, our emphasis has now changed. It’s now about persuading the Scottish Government to “call in” and reject the plans to build 90 residences on North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood by signing the petition.

The Scottish Ministers that will be making the decision are Alex Neil and Marco Biagi. This means our local MSP Sandra White is key to getting them to make the right decision and throw NCV Ltd planning application out.


If your on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr then click on link below so we all put out a message at the same time i.e. a thunderclap and so get the petition noticed and a few more signatories. The message goes out on 29th February at 10am so obviously we need you to register before then.


What is Thunderclap?
Thunderclap is a tool that lets a message be heard when you and your friends say it together. Think of it as an “online flash mob.” Join a Thunderclap, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that cannot be ignored.

What exactly am I agreeing to when I authorize my Facebook or Twitter account?
You’re allowing Thunderclap to share a single message on your behalf. This is only the case when you click the button on the campaign page to support with Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. After the campaign is complete, we won’t post any additional messages.

Will you only post to my account, or to my friends’ accounts as well?
Just your feed. We won’t spam your friends; that wouldn’t be nice.


Any questions or you want to be added to the email list , or help out, then email : northkelvinmeadow@gmail.com


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Please sign the new petition thats asks the Scottish Government to call in and reject New City Vision Ltd Planning application.

Help us to persuade the Scottish Government to ‘call in’ and reject the plans to build 90 residences on North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood by signing our petition


Once signed please do circulate it amongst your friends, families, clubs and other groups. We need alot!!!

There are many reasons they should, but one of them is Glasgow City Council (GCC) hasn’t followed Scottish Government planning policy. Heres an extract below which clearly shows where GCC has departed on this occasion;

Scottish Government’s Planning Advice Note 65: Planning and Open Space:

“The future growth of settlements and the need to find sustainable locations for housing and economic development will have implications for open space. Scottish Planning Policy 17: Planning for Transport supports higher densities in locations that are most accessible by walking, cycling and public transport. This should not lead to a loss of amenity and will place greater emphasis on the need for a well-distributed, well-connected and accessible supply of quality open space.”

The important part of this planning guidance from the Scottish Government to Councils on how they should approach conflicts between open space and new developments is the phase “This should not lead to a loss of amenity.”.

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We need you – the morning of Tuesday 26th January 2016

Please come out to show support when the Council’s Planning Committee come to make a site visit at approx 9.45am on Tuesday 26th January 2016 . They will come and leave by bus, parking at the Kelbourne street entrance to the land.

Also please come to a demo straight after, outside the City Chambers on George Square as the Planning Committee meet inside at 11.30am to discuss whether the land be sold off to New City Vision Ltd to build 90 houses. They will also decide on The Children Wood Group’s planning application which is wanting to keep the land as it is , a wild green space for community use.

Ian Black will be making the presentation at the hearing on behalf of North Kelvin Meadow. Ian lives on Sanda Street and was actually the person who organised the orginal planting of trees and grass back in 1994. The wood and meadow we see today comes from that initial seed source. They were spurned on to do that by the Council taking away the goal posts in 1993 as they didn’t want to maintain it as a sports pitch.

Needless to say this is a crucial time for the land and its future. We feel over this last 8 years in particular (North Kelvin Meadow started in Oct 2008) we’ve made a very strong case for the land to remain as it is and not get destoyed. Council and Government policy backs that up but alas sometimes Councils don’t follow their own policy!

Thats why we need you out that morning, to show your support so we win this planning committee vote. There will be A3 posters given out on the day for you to hold up should you wish.

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