Through their work with local people, Glasgow-based charity Urban Roots realised that residents of a new housing development, funded as part of the regeneration of Toryglen, were finding it hard to access local services and greenspaces.
The charity applied for funding through Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme to design local walking and cycling routes. These will link the new estate with nearby shops, football pitches and woodland.
Listening to the needs of the community
To gather information on the links that would be most useful to the community, Urban Roots held focus groups tailored to their different volunteer groups, held engagements at existing meetings and ran standalone events.
Urban Roots works to support many vulnerable people and groups with protected characteristics. This experience and the trust built up with volunteers, locals and service users let them carry out in-depth consultation with groups that may have been hard to reach for a local authority or developer, including a mental health and wellbeing group and the Orchard Grove care home
The charity focused on identifying solutions to problems faced by the community in the area. They created concept boards to spark ideas at consultations. By working closely with the community and design agency LUC, Urban Roots were able to make sure that feedback from the targeted consultations was meaningfully translated into the concept designs.
This meant the proposed designs suggested walking and cycling routes which recognised the everyday journeys made by local residents, formalised desire lines and which were accessible, safe and welcoming to all.
“I think this would be a great space to use and for everyone from elderly to disabled people. Really well thought about!”Consultation Response
Changing local travel habits
Urban Roots used their consultations as a chance to find out more about individual and social barriers to walking and cycling in the area. This led to the charity setting up a behaviour change project in partnership with Camglen Bike Town.
The project supported local people to be more active in their everyday trips. Cycle training for adults and young people gave locals the confidence to use bikes to get around the local area. Bike maintenance sessions and guided rides help to make sure that people had the skills and knowledge to ride safely and confidently.
“ At Bike Town, we believe local communities and the organisations representing them are ideally placed to facilitate walking and cycling activities that support the development of new cycling active travel infrastructure. ”Jim Ewing, Senior Team Leader, Camglen Biketown
Urban Roots were well placed to lead on the community engagement but did not have experience of project managing significant construction projects.
To take the designs forward, Urban Roots engaged with Glasgow City Council and local regeneration agency Clyde Gateway This has resulted in Clyde Gateway applying for £50,000 of detailed and technical design funding through the Places for Everyone fund, to further develop Urban Roots’ concept design work.
Community organisations have key local contacts and an understanding of their local area. Local authorities could contract them to help with the planning of new routes or to encourage a more meaningful engagement process.
Community organisations may also have capacity to help drive local authority projects and foster local ownership.
This approach could be replicated through all stages of a project, from initial design creation to supporting activities after construction and ongoing maintenance.