Restoration plan welcomed for Govan Graving Docks

Plans to deliver a housing development at Govan Graving Docks appear to have been abandoned in favour of returning the site to industrial, heritage and cultural use.

Restoration plan welcomed for Govan Graving Docks

Developer New City Vision, which owns the site, had initially planned to create  up to 800 homes, a 195-bedroom hotel, shops, restaurant and office space at the site.

However, the proposals were given short shrift by Glasgow City Council officials who described the plan as “surprisingly poor” given the scale of development proposed and rejected the application due to its failure to preserve the site’s “special architectural and historic interest” and flooding concerns.

Now the company said it has listened to local stakeholders and aims to bring the first of the three dry docks back into use for ship repair work next year.

Harry O’Donnell, chairman of New City Vision, said: “New City Vision has listened to feedback from stakeholders.

“Our decision to pursue the reopening of Dock 1 recognises its importance as a heritage asset, not just to the community but also to the whole of Glasgow.

“This is a hugely exciting part of our plans for the site.”

A feasibility study was conducted over the weekend when marine and civil engineering specialists carried out a range of surveys including a dive survey and testing of the dock gate.

The dock itself was emptied, for the first time since 1987, down to 700mm above the bottom so that the walls could be checked.

Peter Breslin, managing director of Marine Projects Scotland Limited, which carried out the survey, said: “We were delighted to be instructed to carry out an initial feasibility survey on Dock 1.

“The survey revealed that the dock gate, culverts and dock walls are all in good condition.

“A programme can now be developed for the works required to reactivate the dock.”

It is hoped the dock will be ready to open early in 2021.

In a joint statement by Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative (CDPI) and Govan Docks Regeneration Trust, the new plans were warmly welcomed.

The statement read: “Govan can potentially now look forward to the benefit of more of the West Coast ferry fleet being maintained on the Clyde and skilled marine engineering jobs and training being created locally as a result. There is also the opportunity for a world class maritime heritage centre to emerge, with a working dry dock in actual industrial use, as the centrepiece. This will create a working, living museum like no other in Europe.

“Ships coming up to Govan will attract watching crowds and will create renewed interest in the river that has been in so many ways forgotten for decades. Once one of the docks is up and running it will be able to attract marine engineering work that could lead to expansion into one or both of the other dry docks in the future. There is now the potential opportunity for Govan, once the very heart of world shipbuilding, to be part of the emerging zero-emissions shipping revolution and thus play an important part in tackling climate change. The COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next year presents an opportunity to raise the profile even further and attract greater investment.

“This paradigm shift has taken place as a direct result of more than five years of extensive research, networking and advocacy work that we, our partners organisations, our collaborative network and the Govan Community have undertaken to raise the profile of Govan Graving Docks as a key heritage and maritime infrastructure asset for Govan, Glasgow, the Clyde, Scotland and beyond. This includes collaborative partners through University of the West of Scotland, Riverside Solidarity, Fablevision and the Memory of Water EU Creative Europe Project. Also the graving docks design competition we ran; with students from University of Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art; who had the opportunity to present their innovative, creative ideas for the docks to the Govan Community. We wish to take this opportunity to thank them all for their support and contribution thus far.

“We look forward to hearing more of the details of the restoration project; who the investors and delivery partners are, the business model for the docks, who will operate the docks and New City Vision’s exit strategy.”

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