Arts vital to successful regeneration, Scottish Parliament hears

Art on display in Laurieston
Art on display in Laurieston

Regeneration projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh have been held up as best practice at the Scottish Parliament.

Urban Union – a joint venture between McTaggart Construction and Robertson Group – has successfully completed the initial phases of regeneration at Laurieston Living in Glasgow and Pennywell Living in Edinburgh.

Key to that success has been the inclusion of an award-winning arts strategy which has brought together current and future residents.

Holyrood’s cross party group on culture invited the organisations delivering these programmes to take part in a panel discussion titled ‘Cultural Regeneration – can planners and artists work together?’

Peter McCaughey of WAVEparticle and Kate Wimpress of North Edinburgh Arts explained how the arts has been integral to each development and showcased some of the innovative programmes they have created at Laurieston and Pennywell.

Neil McKay, managing director of Urban Union, said: “Regeneration is about much more than simply building new homes. That can only be the starting point – truly successful regeneration has to be about building communities and that is why we embed an arts and living strategy into each of our projects.

“It is fantastic that the Scottish Parliament has recognised the importance of this, and I am sure that Peter and Kate impressed upon those attending the Cross Party Group the importance of a holistic approach to regeneration.”

Laurieston Living is a £100 million revitalisation of the Gorbals area, with plans to deliver four phases over a nine-year period. The first of those phases is complete, with enabling works underway for phase two.

In Laurieston, WAVEparticle’s Open Spaces project has made use of some of the vacant areas around the development, with pop-up events, exhibitions, community workshops, film screenings and theatre performances being held.

Pennywell Living – launched in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council’s 21st Century Homes housing division – features 700 homes, half of which are either affordable, social housing or mid-market rent.

At Pennywell, the arts strategy has led to events such as ‘Bright Nights’ in 2015, an installation created by local artist Alice Betts which transformed the area around Muirhouse Shopping Centre.

The partnership is also working on a third development in the Muirton area of Perth, building 203 homes as part of the final phase of a regeneration project.

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