My thanks to Steve Pritchard for agreeing to talk to me about his experiences during his time as Executive Director of Development at the award winning Clyde Gateway Project in the east end of Glasgow.
Steve has an impressive track record of delivering complex multi-partner regeneration schemes across the UK including Chatham Maritime and Cardiff Bay. I was therefore keen to learn more about his work in Glasgow and whether this experience had altered his perspective on the overall approach and delivery of large scale regeneration projects.
I am ashamed to say that I don’t know much about Glasgow having only fleetingly visited the City on route to the Ravenscraig Regeneration site. So what’s it like?
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and was known as the “Second City of the British Empire” it’s a wonderful, dynamic City with a population of 600,000. Like Cardiff Glasgow has a significantly larger catchment in Glasgow’s case 2.4 million.
Later this year Glasgow will host the twentieth Commonwealth Games.
Despite its strong commercial core, the City is, by a considerable margin, also the most deprived area of Scotland.Unemployment is a major contributing factor to the high level of deprivation with 55.3% of residents of working age being out of work in some east end wards. The frightening statistic to me though is male life expectancy, which is as low as 54 in some wards – it is 59 in Ethiopia and 65.5 in Iraq; alcohol, drugs and poor diet all take their toll.
So what attracted you to this challenging urban environment?
I have been actively involved with regeneration for over 30 years. The challenge and opportunity presented by Clyde Gateway were huge the move to Scotland was a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed.
Clyde Gateway was established in 2007 and is the Scottish Government’s national regeneration priority and the largest of Scotland’s six URC’s. Clyde Gateway is backed financially and strategically by Glasgow City Council, South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Enterprise. The scale of the project is huge covering 850 hectares of the east end of Glasgow and deprived parts of South Lanarkshire.
The RICS publication “Spot the Grot Stop the Rot” lists twelve characteristics of a community in risk of abandonment. When I first started at Clyde Gateway I could identify ten of these with a maybe on the other two.
I found these challenges personally exciting as they provided an opportunity to put into practice the well known regeneration mantra of helping to reverse economic, social and physical decline in an area where market forces will not go without some form of public sector support. Or alternatively to quote Star Trek “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, there are no quick fixes in regeneration it is a long term team game and not for the faint hearted!
That’s impressive and of some scale so tell me something about your role.
I was the Executive Director of Development with responsibility for the formulation and implementation of the Property Strategy. I worked as a member of a multi-disciplined team that comprised a mix of experienced professionals drawn from the private and public sectors. Our aim was to effectively establish a “one stop shop” that was able to break the language barrier that often exists between the public, private and community sectors.
So what were some of the principal challenges that you faced?
In common with many other complex regeneration schemes Clyde Gateway had a number of specific challenges including:
To progress effective regeneration it was necessary to assume control of land in strategic locations across Clyde Gateway. A sizeable percentage of this land was in private ownership so a comprehensive site assembly programme was implemented. This resulted in investment of over £36m leading to the assembly of over 35 hectares of land across 70 different sites.
- Contamination and infrastructure
The target was to remediate 350 hectares of land (over 40% of the Gateway area). Contaminants included the largest hexavalent chromium waste site in Europe which was brought to public awareness in the film Erin Brockovich. With the aid of a £6m ERDF grant this site will become the National Business District, comprising in total 60 hectares of land capable of accommodating 275,900m2 of business space over a 20 year period.
- Market Negativity and Poor Perception
There was a need to tackle negative market perception head on and counter negative vibes by demonstrating the opportunities to a sceptical audience about what could be done.
The local community and the market had heard it before so it was important not to over promise and to lead from the front delivering a pipeline of activity.
Procurement can be a huge turn off to the extent that some developers exclude themselves from the process altogether. It is a difficult area and one where early pragmatic commercial advice and conveying the advantages helped to demystify the process.
Risks are inherent in regeneration these need to be identified, quantified and mitigated. In Clyde Gateway, risks were regularly reviewed and where appropriate re-prioritised by the Team based on our growing understanding, knowledge and action take to alleviate potential issues.
So faced with these challenges how did you go about developing a strategy for delivery and implementation?
The Strategy built on the strengths of the area and prioritised the development of the frontage to the River Clyde and established transportation hubs, such as the 3 train stations, 3 motorway junctions and the good local bus service which was used by over 77% of the resident community. The detail of the Strategy is not set in stone; it is flexible and capable of responding to market conditions, thus maintaining the essential ingredients of momentum and credibility.
One of the criticisms of large urban scale regeneration schemes and URC’s is that their predominately “top down approach” tends to ignore and exclude local communities. How did you address this issue at Clyde Gateway?
I was certainly aware of this criticism from my previous experience at Cardiff Bay. However, at Clyde Gateway the experience within the team and the feedback from active engagement with the community led to the Masterplan being amended to a form acceptable to both local stakeholders and potential investors.
Regeneration is much more than bricks and mortar that to my mind is development. Clyde Gateway strove to match the physical work to deliver community benefits to improve social and economic conditions. For example the insertion of clauses in construction contracts, establishing and developing partnerships with local schools, providing funding for events or more importantly to help local residents into employment and training.
Increasing jobs and training opportunities for Clyde Gateway residents has been a major goal and working alongside existing groups and organisations over 200 have been provided to date. In addition Clyde Gateway has also been directly involved in numerous community events and helped establish a number of local groups.
An excellent example of working in partnership with the community was the redevelopment of the Olympia Theatre, a £10m project supported by Glasgow Life, Sportscotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Town Centre Regeneration Fund. The Theatre was a derelict eye saw which had stood empty for 16 years at the heart of Bridgeton. When consulted the local community wanted to see the building brought back into public use. Clyde Gateway responded to this challenge and the new-look Olympia opened to great acclaim in December 2011. The new community facilities included a public library and café on the ground floor, a High Performance Centre for Boxing on the first floor with the two top floors offering speculative office space. The public library is also the home of Scotland’s first Mediatheque offering free access to the archives of the British Film Institute.
A relocation strategy was drawn up for businesses impacted by the regeneration proposals and to-date some 45 businesses have been relocated leading to the retention of over 1260 jobs.
One of the most challenging projects was Clyde Gateway’s relationship with the “showpeople” community which comprised over 600 people living on 22 yards within Clyde Gateway. By a process of positive engagement with the community and the Showmens Guild the Masterplan was amended to focus on 11 yards and a Community Relocation Strategy was agreed which saw the successful relocation of 6 yards while I was still in post.
Was the early provision of infrastructure important?
Certainly infrastructure is a key factor. The completion of the M74 was critical to opening up Gateway. Another early win for Clyde Gateway was its commitment of £5m to improving local transport infrastructure. Clyde Gateway contributed £2m to the provision of the new £11m station in Dalmarnock and also grant funded the first phase of the East End Regeneration Route know as The Clyde Gateway, this distributor route will ultimately connect the M74 and the M8. An ERDF grant was also secured to support sustainable transport within the Gateway.
Perhaps we can now turn to what you see as some of the successful outcomes to-date of the Clyde Gateway Project?
Clyde Gateway is a £2.7 billion regeneration scheme, the largest in Scotland and 7th in Planning’s Top 100 Regeneration Projects. Last year Clyde Gateway was recognised as the top regeneration project in the UK by the RICS.
Clyde Gateway has secured new investment projects with the acquisition and servicing of a vacant area of land adjoining Junction 2A on the M74 and the establishment of Clyde Gateway East. This Business Park has the potential for the creation of 1,300 jobs and is being progressed in a joint venture with SCOT Sheridan/ MEPC with a first phase of 5,340m2 of industrial space.
The relocation of GCSS and with it 500 jobs was secured at Eastgate with a 5,945m2 fit for purpose environmental friendly offices premises developed in conjunction with Dawn Developments and Aviva. This scheme which opened in April 2012 was recognised by the BCO as the Best Commercial Workspace in Scotland in 2012.
When required Clyde Gateway has entered into a direct development role to pump prime the market. Two buildings at Bridgeton and Rutherglen have been refurbished with the support of a £1.79m ERDF grant. These buildings have provided managed office space marketed under the banner of Red Tree business suites. The developments provide 39 units ranging in size from 18 to 280m2 on flexible terms. The Rutherglen property being recognised by the Commission as having the most successful results in Scotland for the 2012-13 Programme.
So what about the future investment is there now a pipeline of proposed projects?
This year’s Commonwealth Games will focus attention on Glasgow and bring thousand of overseas visitors to the City and will be a catalyst for further investment which can only be good. Clyde Gateway is part of this.
Clyde Gateway has ambitious targets including:
- Providing an additional 400,000m2 of business space
- Providing an additional 21,000 new jobs
- Increasing the local population by 20,000 people
To help meet these challenging targets some the new Investment projects in the pipeline include:
A partnership with the Building Research Establishment to develop part of the National Business District as an Innovation Park.
- Following the success of Eastgate and the Red Tree schemes, Clyde Gateway has commenced work on three office developments totalling 16,806m2 with support of “shovel-ready” funding from the Scottish Government as part of its strategy to boost the construction sector:
- Albus a £4.5m development of 1,858m2 due for completion in July 2014
- A £24m Grade A office of 11,148m2 fronting the River Clyde in South Dalmarnock for which a major occupier has been secured details of which will be announced shortly, and
- A £5.8m Grade A office development of 3,800m2 as Phase 2 of the Rutherglen Low Carbon Zone due for completion October 2014.
So looking back on what was almost 5 years with Clyde Gateway what would you say are the key learning’s and experiences that you have come away with?
In summary, it has underlined my long held view that successful regeneration is all about “doing it” rather than “talking about it”! It is not a quick fix, it is a long term team game suited to public/private partnership working together and sharing risks and rewards
There is always a need to maintain momentum and work with the market and not in competition to it with the initial focus of improving perception and breaking down barriers!
Large scale regeneration is dependent on the continued support of the public sector and belief and buy in from the private sector.
Without doubt, Clyde Gateway has been the most enjoyable and professionally rewarding opportunity of my career to-date.
I recommend that you take the time to visit Glasgow and Clyde Gateway in the near future to see for yourself! The 23 July to the 3 August would be a good time.
For further detail see www.clydegateway.com
About Steve Pritchard
“Steve is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors with approaching 40 years experience in property both in the public and private sectors specialising in regeneration and development of multi phased mixed use schemes bringing about transformational change and sustainable regeneration within inner city areas. Steve has played a leading role in several of the UK’s largest regenerations schemes such as Clyde Gateway, Cardiff Bay and Chatham Maritime. Steve has also taken an active role on several representative bodies including the RICS, Chamber of Commerce and the CBI influencing policy at a local and regional level as well as several non-executive roles with bodies such as Pontypool RFC and Ty Hafan children’s hospice. “