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Penny Lewis' Quarterly Comment

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24 Jun 2008

Last month Prospect looked at the urban design challenges facing Edinburgh. This issue looks at a broader level at the key tasks facing Glasgow. Some of the issues confronting Glasgow, in particular the east end, are not susceptible to an architectural or even a planning solution. Glasgow has to deal with structural issues, it's not a simple case of dressing the city for the 2014 games, (although we should do that using a mix of Scotland's best design talent). I've lived in Glasgow for the past fifteen years, during which time much of the city has changed for the better, but the east end has very rarely shared in the rewards of the so-called urban renaissance. Over time the sense of desperate poverty and sense of abandonment seems to have been consolidated rather than abated.

The East End Regeneration Route and the M74 extension are long overdue, they are both important pieces of infrastructure that can unlock potential development sites in the east. Glasgow's successful bid to host the Commonwealth Games 2014 could, alongside other infrastructure commitment lever in almost one billion pounds of investment into the city- much of it focused on the east end.

So, over the next five years the city has a unique opportunity to transform its character and transform much of the east end's urban wasteland into new commercial and residential areas. It's an extremely exciting prospect. My only concern is that the city, committed as it is to the mantra that the market must provide the capital and the politicians must retain control, will blow the opportunity. This is not an issue of design quality or procurement methods it's about aspirations. Glasgow's leaders need to stop using the poverty of the east end as a justification for second rate and mediocre planning and development. Glasgow may be ready by 2014 but does it plan to excel?

This is my last issue as editor of Prospect. It's not an easy thing to produce a commercially independent architectural publication, without subsidy, in a small country with a small population of architects. Architectural publications generally rely on the passion and goodwill of people in the industry and I am very grateful to everyone that gave their time, experience and energy to help me over the past eight years.

Penny Lewis Editor

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