Concrete Garden was established in 2013 from a community growing project which transformed a small vacant and derelict site in Possilpark. Since then, working with volunteers, they have designed and created several spaces which provide food growing, play and wellbeing opportunities for people across the north of Glasgow.
There is now a lot of demand for Concrete Garden’s existing facilities, particularly the outdoor adventure play, and this is set to increase as more houses are built in the area. Aiming to meet the existing and emerging needs of their community, Concrete Garden is now looking to transform a larger derelict site in their community to create a bigger adventure playground.
The vacant land adjacent to Concrete Garden's current site (called the Back Garden) has been classed as a Derelict Urban Site since 2000 or Earlier (DUSTE) by the Scottish Land Commission. Concrete Garden have started investigating the possibillity of either a Community Asset Transfer or negotiated sale for both the Back Garden and the large vacant site adjacent. Both sites are owned by Jobs and Business Glasgow, an ALEO of Glasgow City Council, who are not currently a relevant authority for Community Asset Transfer.
Until now the Back Garden has been upgraded and operated under a Licence to Occupy, before investing in renewal of the raised beds greater security of tenure is preferred. Security of tenure on the larger site is important too, not just because of the investment required to bring it into use but also because there is now strong evidence of the long-term need and value for the facilities that will be created, as well as providing security for Concrete Garden who are now a well-established charity. An application to the Scottish Land Fund for feasibility costs was submitted in Sprint 2022. All going well with the feasibility study, community consultation and landowner negotiations, Concrete Garden intend to apply for acquisition fuding later in the year.
A community den building event took place over a week during Summer 2021 on the vacant land. Through activating this space and sparking the imagination of the children who took part, the community were encouraged to think of what it could become. The overwhelming feedback confirmed that this site would be of much greater value as a community resource rather than housing or retail.
On the back of this success, Concrete Garden intends to bring the vacant site back into temporary use again from summer 2022 until the sites long term development is settled. This will likely take place under a License to Occupy agreement and funding options are currently being reviewed to enable this.
“Learn to sit comfortably with the unknown. My experience so far is that I’ve learned to know what I don’t know and then gone to find someone who did.
From our perspective, it’s not just our successes that have helped build our learning to get to this stage. All the things that people don’t see, the things the didn’t go right, have also been what’s prepared us to get to this stage. We’ve had various learning curves and set backs to overcome. The next time something comes up that you’ve not faced before, try and remember how you got through the bad times before.”
Funding & Resources
The project will involve local children in design, construction and evolution of the site. This co-design and construction process is one of the methods Concrete Garden uses to ensure community empowerment filters down to the youngest members of their community. The adventure playground development will use reclaimed and donated materials, reducing environmental footprint and capital costs whilst empowering younger generations to make sustainable choices and learn skills through play.
As many local nurseries don’t have outdoor facilities and formal childcare isn’t Concrete Garden’s area of expertise, a partnership arrangement with a local nursery is being considered which could use part of the site to run an early years and afterschool club. This will be a potential income stream which will support the financial sustainability of the site, reducing reliance on grant funding for operations.
In 2020 the project joined the DTAS / Scottish Land Commission partnership project which assists community-led organisations bringing new uses to V&DL. This support, alongside advice from the Community Ownership Support Service and Concrete Garden’s experience has been the foundation for the project. Early feasibility work has been undertaken with support of the Scottish Land Fund, City of Play and Community Enterprise's Accelerated programme.
Find out more
Moira McCormick – Chief Executive of Concrete Garden