South Seeds: Queens Park Recreation Ground, Crosshill, Glasgow
The Old Changing Rooms is a disused sports pavilion in Queens Park Recreation Ground that was previously used by local sports clubs until the 1990s. It is an eyesore for the community in the heart of a well-used park, nestled within Govanhill, which is one of the most densely populated and deprived areas in Scotland. The building is owned by Glasgow City Council but through years of disuse, vandalism and a fire, the roof in parts is now in poor condition and the site is known for antisocial behaviour.
South Seeds are an embedded community anchor organisation, which supports people to lead more sustainable lives. Locals often raise that more quality outdoor space to grow, learn, socialise and exercise would improve their quality of life. This demand increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend that is likely to persist long after pandemic. South Seeds aims to deliver on some of these themes by creating a socially engaging Community Net-Zero hub, expanding their current offering and providing a permanent home for some of their services.
South Seeds are negotiating a long-term lease with the Glasgow City Council through the People Make Glasgow Communities process. The lease will be of a duration long enough to leverage capital funding for the building, and unusually will be tailored to allow partial demolition of the building.
At the start of the project a letter of comfort was provided, which gave South Seeds the necessary security to start developing the garden, bringing the site into immediate use and to invest in developing long-term plans for the site’s re-development.
A feasibility study recommended that around half of the building can be saved and easily brought back into use. The most derelict parts of the building, where there is fire and water damage, should be removed to create quality outdoor socialising and growing space. Five of the changing room cubicles at one end of the building will be retained and upgraded to provide storage for gardening activities, a rentable community meeting room and Tool Library storage. At the other end of the building the retained changing rooms will be converted into a lettable kiosk café opportunity. Initial surveys investigated the status of the utilities and potential presence of asbestos. This was a priority as either issue could have complicated the project, making it more expensive and less viable.
During 2021 the fire and water damaged section of the building was deemed unsafe due to further deterioration and vadalism, resulting in an exclusion zone being erected by Glasgow City Council as the landowners. South Seeds and the council are now actively working together to resolve the unsafe sections of the building as a priority to enable continued wider site use.
“South Seeds spent a year developing a Community Asset Transfer proposal to take on ownership of the Old Changing Rooms but sadly, this was unsuccessful. In hindsight, a number of scoping meetings between South Seeds and the council, would have helped to focus all our minds and open a meaningful dialogue about how best to redevelop the site and help it once again enrich the local community. For complex issues such as redeveloping this derelict site, there is mileage in all parties becoming familiar with one another and drafting a path forward together. Resolving issues relating to land ownership and management are rarely straightforward. The Old Changing Rooms for example doesn’t have its own title plan, so transferring ownership is problematic and this proved to be one the initial barriers. If you are not sure what your options are, ask advisors and speak with the landowner. Very soon it will become clear what can be achieved and how.
Clearly, the goal of any community organisation is to create added value for its local community. As such, once we found out what we could do with the site - after speaking with the council and independent experts (e.g. architects, solicitors, utilities etc.) - it then put us in a strong position to explore with the local community what we should do with the site. The site’s re-development must satisfy the needs and wants of our community. The only way to really understand what they require is to establish a meaningful dialogue with them. Consequently, a community-wide consultation is South Seeds’ next step in its journey towards re-developing the Old Changing Rooms.”
Funding & Resources
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 some seed-funding stimulated the project allowing an options appraisal and feasibility to be undertaken.
The site is being developed in stages. A community growing space has been developed on the land surrounding the building with funding from Community Climate Asset Fund.
The next action is to address the asbestos and unsafe areas in partnership with the council, once complete this will allow volunteer-powered demolition of parts of the structure. The volunteers will be supported by a specialist construction firm which will teach skills whilst safely demolishing the structure. By demolishing in this way, South Seeds hope to be able to process and reuse the majority of the materials, keeping the project's carbon emissions to a minimum. The final stage is the refurbishment of the building itself.
To support the sites long term sustainability, a sub-let café opportunity is planned and the space will be able to be rented by local groups.
Find out more
Matt Hannon - Chair of South Seeds
South Seeds DTA Scotland
514 Victoria Road 1B Washington Lane
Glasgow, G42 8BG Edinburgh, EH11 2HA