Halfway to paradise
The soil is cut, the heavy machinery is in, and the work has begun. That’s the great news from Southside Housing Association in Cardonald. The underused, bland and difficult to access green space that sits in front of Moss Heights will now be transformed into a Community Park offering a vital refuge for people and wildlife alike.
Halfway Community Park is a project, on the southside of Glasgow, near the busy M8, that will have a huge visual impact and improve safety for local residents. Work is now underway to remove the road that runs in front of the Moss Height flats and dramatically change the green spaces that residents look out onto. Those green spaces will be varied and easier to reach than ever before.
To date Southside Housing Association are the only Housing Association to successfully bid for Green Infrastructure Funds. They bring a wealth of experience of working with residents, co-ordinating action and bringing communities together. That’s a strong suite of skills in a project of this nature, and they are using them to good effect at Halfway.
Indeed you could say Southside Housing Association have an existing and proven commitment to improving this area, for they were the driving force behind the improvements that upgraded the adjacent high rise buildings.
A £2.2m project almost invariably requires the cooperation and expertise of a range of funders. One of the key funders here is Glasgow City Council through their City Deal funding, and their expertise in surface water flood prevention works will deliver a massive benefit for the Cardonald area. Increased localised flooding in an age of climate change is reality and having the Council’s knowledge on how to effectively tackle this is a key asset.
So what will the project physically deliver that residents will enjoy day to day?
It’s worth pausing at that point and realising that in an area challenged by high unemployment, low income and poor health statistics, green infrastructure has the opportunity to improve lives as well as the local environment.
A key aspect is removing the road that currently runs directly in front of the Moss Height flats. This was an awkward arrangement and a dangerous one too. Children looking to use the local greenspaces had no option but to cross it. By pedestrianizing this area it will be so much safer, and easier, to access the spaces adjacent to Moss Heights.
And those spaces themselves are going to see massive changes. Greenspaces is but a single word which can’t hope to capture the sheer scale of the plans here. For example there will be a Toddler Play Area and for older children a Natural Play Area will be built over the next few weeks. There will also be a community zone offering space for the whole community to enjoy the outdoors.
There are regular opportunities to get involved in the Park with the weekly Smiley Saturday group. Each week they focus on a different theme around the Park and finish with a healthy lunch. It’s great to hear that the recent spate of outdoor activities hosted here (including a Butterfly identification session) are planned to continue.
Due to complete by the end of September 2019, this project has been a positive experience for many and helped build a strong sense of community spirit. Residents have had considerable input into designing Halfway Community Park, and a ‘Friends of’ group will help care for and continue to develop the park long after the diggers have departed.
Speaking of heaving machinery, in mid-July residents had a fun ‘Art in the Park’ event which involved adding a splash of colour to the protective fencing which currently surrounds the construction areas being worked on.
Adapting and improving is the hallmark of Halfway Community Park. In an era in which we increasingly look to tackle climate change, inequality and biodiversity loss, things are indeed looking good around Moss Heights.