A diverse multi-cultural place
Govanhill is one of the most dense, diverse and renewing places to live in Scotland; it also has the most illiteracy. Officially the population is around 15,000, though it may actually be closer to 18,000, of which 3500 are Slovakian/Roma, and 3500 are Pakistani. 88 languages are spoken. Through partnership working, community activism, environmental focuses and physical investment, the area has transformed itself over the last decade from one of the most demonised neighbourhoods in Scotland to a desired place to live, work and visit. While there is still work to do on repairing the building fabric and improving the environmental amenity of the area, it is an example of dogged placemending.
The ‘social glue’
The work of Govanhill Community Development Trust is wide-ranging and multi-faceted. Their remit covers a wide range of support, including:
- Management of health and equality funds, allocating £1k-5k to 20 projects, voted for by the public;
- Management of employability projects, workspace development and huge numbers of volunteers;
- Participation in local arts projects, eg Govanhill Open Museum;
- Providing opportunities for small, local businesses and social enterprises through short-term leases in light industrial / business units and commercial premises eg: Big Noise Govanhill; Music Broth; The Food Train;
- Participation in Govanhill Thriving Places, one of 10 ten areas designated a ‘Thriving Place’ by Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, aiming to bring residents and organisations together to collaborate for the good of their neighbourhood and develop a Locality Plan that communities, organisations, services and businesses use to work towards positive change.
Renovation and repair
Govanhill is a place that rejected the excesses of comprehensive development in favour of
retro-fitting an existing neighbourhood, thereby retaining social capital and connections. CPO’s of the dilapidated tenements have been undertaken to remove unscrupulous private landlords and make essential repairs to housing stock with a focus on fabric upgrades and conversions. In recognition of the need for larger family apartments 2-bed flats have been adapted to 4/5- bed flats and another tenemental upgrade has been carried out to Passive House standards as an exemplar project. In addition to building fabric improvements, the Housing Association acknowledges there are further opportunities in back courts, replacing hard surfaces, re-greening and re-wilding etc.
String Stewardship from the Public Sector
Glasgow City Council has been granted powers to implement an extended Enhanced Enforcement Area under Section 28 of the Housing Scotland Act. This allows the Council to compel landlords to submit to a criminal records check, produce a Buildings Insurance policy and provide safety certificates. It also permits the right of entry to properties that are subject to complaints from residents about the way they are being managed, thus allowing the Council to more accurately identify problems such as poor environmental standards and overcrowding. Following these powers being granted, an Enhanced Enforcement Area was designated to 4 blocks in South West Govanhill in 2015 and recently extended to a further 14 blocks in the neighbourhood.
Harnessing the Power of the Community
Creative ways to showcase the area’s assets both physical and cultural have been taken.
Examples of these can be found in the Open Museum which include vibrant commissioned
artworks to celebrate the diversity of the area; the Greater Govanhill magazine; and the spirit of activism to save the Govanhill Baths. This distinct and solid sense of place comes through also in the main shopping streets which remain busy and populated by mainly local, independent retailers and coffee shops.