The Viewpark Conservation Group and its 2,200 members has successfully completed a community buy out of the Historic Douglas Support Estate in North Lanarkshire. It is fondly known as ‘Our Glen’ by locals, and is a treasured green space.
This is the biggest urban land buyout in scale in Scotland, at 171 acres with funds of £512,600 from the Scottish Land Fund. The historic Douglas Estate now belongs to the people. After many delays, issues and hurdles, we now own the historic Douglas Estate. Thanks to all the board members, volunteers and fantastic community support – our glen is finally legally transferred into public ownership and we are most grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for their financial support.
The Estate is bounded by the busy road network of the M8, M74 and the A725. It was previously home to Rosehall House and the foundations of which, as well as other sites of historical interest, can still be seen today. The community group will preserve and regenerate the land and have ambitious plans to manage the woodlands – tidying up and replanting, and to build a healthier more active community. This funding will also create three new jobs.
During COVID 19 there was a dramatic increase in people spending time in the great outdoors. Viewpark has wonderful outdoor walks and they intend to improve those and create new river walks. Viewpark Glen helps to address the mental health issues exacerbated by lockdown, and they anticipate that spending time in green space will become prescriptive to address symptoms of anxiety.
Such purchases are underpinned by strong need and community support and have the opportunity to unlock new opportunities and benefits locally. Viewpark Conservation Group have demonstrated that community buyouts are within the capacity of groups in deprived urban areas and we believe they are about to prove just how transformative community landownership can be for those communities. The importance of access to greenspace has been highlighted by the pandemic and has strengthened the Group’s proposals for developing the remnants of the former Douglas Support Estate into a hub for a myriad of outdoor activities accessible for everyone in an area dominated by industrial development.
The funds awarded will help to restore the farmhouse to create a reception area for people visiting the Glen, with information and education facilities, a café and exhibition area to showcase the history of the estate. The Group will create three new jobs with the appointment of a project manager, a ranger and administrative support.
As well the benefits to the local community, Viewpark Conservation Group plans to increase the range of visitors and increase participation through community and volunteering activities. This will in turn improve the park’s management, maintenance and security, including improving paths and managing woodland.
This all came about when public outcry from the local community resulted in a petition to Scottish Parliament to halt plans announced for the expansion of Strathclyde Business Park in 2004. The locals were concerned that new commercial buildings would have encroached on this rich green place full of wildlife.
In the lead up to the purchase, local consultation was an integral part of the development. It revealed that the community wanted walking routes and cycle paths to be improved. Children wanted to be able to go fishing, running and to use their BMX bikes.