Image of path excavation and Cathkin Braes

What's in a name?

There is a scheme taking Scotland by storm – delivering huge benefits for people and nature alike. ‘The Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention Fund’ might seem like a mouthful, but its message is loud and clear. Quite simply it aims to improve Scotland’s urban environment by increasing and enhancing quality greenspace in our towns and cities, especially those close to areas of multiple deprivation.

That’s the theory behind the Fund, and now we can see the reality it’s pretty impressive.

One of the jewels in the crown is the rapid change taking place in the Cathkin Braes area to the south of Glasgow.

Here a former golf course, which had gone out of business and fallen derelict, is being transformed into a new urban park. It’s the catalyst to regenerating an area which many of us will associate with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games when mountain biking fever gripped the area. Blessed with marvellous views north over Glasgow to the Campsies, it has nevertheless lacked good local greenspace … until now.

The closure of Blairbeth Golf Club in 2015 was bad news for the area and ultimately the site became a magnet for anti-social behaviour. This merely compounded the sense that the area showed a high amount of greenspace deprivation. Following community consultations, South Lanarkshire Council made a funding application to the Green Infrastructure Fund in 2016, and March 2018 saw the project get the green light. A few months later work was underway to transform the site.

The site has been renamed Fernbrae Meadows, and as it borders Cathkin to the east, Fernhill to the south, and Castlemilk to the west, it clearly has huge potential to be visited by many people and connect communities. 

Picking up the challenge of managing the site long-term is already in hand.

A ‘Friends of the Park’ group will be responsible for a lot of the on-going park activity and maintenance. That’s already kicking-in as Karen Smith, the local Community Engagement lead noted, “On more than a few occasions I’ve spotted residents out picking up rubbish from the park. They want a nice environment and care enough to put in a bit of extra effort to keep it that way.”

The local community are certainly grasping the opportunity to use the park for a range of activities. Between March and August in 2018 there were just short of 30 community events held in the Meadows. As news spreads of these health walks, workshops and school visits the space will almost certainly be even more well-used.

When completed the site will provide around 20 hectares of badly-needed new, urban, semi-natural, managed greenspace. And it will look so different from a golf course!

Amongst the highlights will be a series of paths and cycle-ways which will improve access and offer a network of green travel routes between the various communities that border the site. Add to the mix seating, trails, community growing areas, visits for schools and volunteering opportunities and the site will clearly have a huge positive impact.

There is a great biodiversity spin-off too. The creation of a series of wildflower meadows, maintenance of woodland corridors, and step back from the intensive management that a golf course often requires will all help. The meadows will be a boon for pollinators, and urban greenspaces are a great refuge for our hard-pressed bees, hoverflies and butterflies. The woodlands will continue to provide a haven for mammals and birds. When you factor in that management and maintenance of the wetland area of the site will help reduce flood risk then it’s hard not to feel that this a project that simply keeps on giving positive returns.

The name change neatly captures the change in emphasis for this site.

The local community came up with 129 potential new names for the site, but over 60% were agreed on Fernbrae Meadows as the best choice.  With that degree of harmony it is likely that this urban park will be yet another chapter in Glasgow’s ‘dear green place’ history.

Find out more about Fernbrae Meadows on their community facebook page @

https://www.facebook.com/FernbraeMeadows/

 

Fernbrae Meadow by numbers …

  • £871,555 – Total Project Cost
  • 35 –  percentage of local people surveyed who use the site at least once a week.
  • 18.57 – hectares that the site covers (1 hectare roughly equals an international rugby pitch)
  • 2016 – the year in which the initial funding application was made
  • 60 – percentage of votes for the Fernbrae Meadows name.
  • 30 – number of community events held in the area in 2018

The Fernbrae Meadows project, formerly Blairbeth golf club, is part-funded by the Green Infrastructure Fund. The project is led by the South Lanarkshire Council.