Behind office doors, a battle is rumbling over the wasteland left in the wake of the Glasgow Garden Festival. Kathleen Morgan asks what its implications are.
In the years since the Glasgow Garden Festival upped sticks and disappeared offtlre face of the Clyde. the city has watched the wasteland it left behind in anticipation.
From the ashes of the festival which put Glasgow on the tourist map in 1988. two visions for the 43-acre site have materialised. Both are lighting for planning permission and Millennium funding.
Glasgow Development Agency. which bought the land from the private sector in I992 after the housing market slumped, is backing an £80 million proposal it hopes will provide a platform for science. technology and the arts in Scotland. At the heart of the plan is a national science centre. a 100m millennium tower. a large-screen lMAX theatre and a ‘state of the art‘ planetarium. Christened the Paciﬁc Quay scheme. it also includes a business park and plans for Glasgow‘s third ten-screen cinema.
The opposing camp. Clyde Festival Gardens 1999. is proposing a £l59 million development. to include a maritime heritage centre and a Trvoli Gardens-style attraction: an attempt to rekindle the enthusiasm inspired by the Glasgow Garden Festival. Unlike the GDA poposal. it would span both sides of the Clyde — the former Garden Festival site and an area around the SECC. An attempt would also be made to rehabilitate Govan dry docks. something the GDA claims is ﬁnancially unviable. -
Although both proposals incorporate a millennium tower. a national science centre and a business park. the promoters insist there are crucial differences. The GDA believes its plan will have an impact on Scotland‘s economy and stresses the prime deveIOpment potential of the site. while Clyde Festival Gardens 1999 highlights the aesthetic value of its bid.
‘This site constitutes the most
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' The tormer Garden Festival
site is ready and waiting tor a developer, as the
w . aerial photo (lett) shows.
7. The GDA’s preterred scheme tocuses on a major
science and technology
centre (artist’s impression.
below) but a planning
' application tor a rival
development has also been submitted.
important real estate development in the west of Scotland. if not the whole of Scotland. in the next few years.’ says GDA director ofdevelopment Paul Smith. ‘lt‘s absolutely crucial we get it right because of the stakes. This is not an exercise in development for its own sake — it has to be embedded in our economic strategy.‘ Smith rejects criticisms that the GDA proposals are too business-centric. ‘We‘ve gone for a mixed-use site. combining business with leisure facilities that are crucial for the city.‘
‘At the moment these schemes are tloated down from heaven to a no-man’s
land. The impact on the city is zero.’
Director of Clyde Festival Gardens 1999. Geoffrey Jarvis claims the GDA plans will be a blot on the Clydeside landscape. ‘They involve a whole line of huge buildings along the river and you won't be able to see the views to the north.‘ he says. ‘Our proposals are an attempt to re-create the feeling that was alive during the Garden Festival — ordinary people having a good time.‘
Visitors would have to pay to enter the main attractions showcased in both proposals — the science centre and the Festival Gardens. Paul Smith says the public will accept the entrance fee as necessary. ‘We have to rely on locals coming back time and time again.’ he says. ‘We're not talking about a museum and i don‘t think people will
regard it in the same way as Kelvingrove.‘
Expert in urban design at the University of Strathciyde. Dr Hildebrand Frey criticises both proposals for failing to relate to the surrounding communities — Govan. Kinning Park and Kingston. ‘At the moment these schemes are ﬂoated down from heaven to a no-man‘s land.‘ he says. ‘The impact on the city is zero. A science museum should be more in the city centre. linked to other events. or at least. should have some impact on Govan. which desperately needs some regeneration.‘
Frey believes visitors parachuted into Glasgow by road and air. are more likely to benefit from both
‘developments than city-dwellers: ‘l
ﬁnd that particularly worrying in view of 1999 and all the talk of empowerment of the people.‘ he says. ‘People will be dumped on the site. experience whatever is there and then go away, most to the airport or by motorway. If we put it on the moon. it would have the same effect.‘
Both Jarvis and Smith say their proposals would allow Glaswegians easy access to their respective developments. The Clyde Festival Gardens proposal includes a bus station and river boat. while the GDA plans new access points for cars and points to the railway station at the SECC and pedestrian access by Bell‘s Bridge.
Both proposals are being considered for planning permission by the local authorities. Their architects must wait until September to discover if they are to receive Millennium funding.
Performers alarmed at
Mayfest’s low proﬁle
The new-look Maytest is being criticised by Glasgow theatre companies days before it takes to the stage, amid internal rumblings of discontent.
Two Glasgow-based companies have voiced concerns over the management ot this year’s testival, complaining ot poor organisation and a botched otticial programme launch. (it the three full-time project co-ordinators originally involved in organising this year’s testival, only one remains and the others say they have been asked by Maytest not to speak to the media about the circumstances surrounding their departure.
Under the leadership at new director Paul Bassett, Maytest is attempting to put grassroots entertainment up in lights - all but six ot the 43 theatre companies involved are Glasgow- based. However, some at those companies are concerned about a lack ot organisation and say that Maytest is suttering trom an unusually low proﬁle in the run-up to the festival.
Theatre Cryptic is one company critical ot the administrative style adopted by Maytest this year. ‘Paul Bassett has been artistically supportive, but administratively, Maytest has been disappointing,’ said a spokeswoman tor the company. Theatre Cryptic pertormed Boniour Tristesse to sell-out audiences at the Tramway during last year’s Maytest and is due to return to the venue this year with a new production, Child loven
Echoing these concerns was a member ot another Glasgow theatre company who wished to remain anonymous. He complained ot a ‘tree- tall’ style ot management adopted by Maytest this year: ‘Right trom the outset it’s been very ditticult. Paul [Bassett] has had a rigid view ot how he wants the festival to be run. He has turned on its head the whole way in which Maytest has related to venues and the theatre companies, which has caused a great deal of contusion. There’s nothing wrong with changing traditional relationships, but it seems to be change tor the sake oi it.’
Both companies were puzzled that there was no press launch to alert the Scottish media to this year’s Maytest - the testival was ettectively launched with an article by Bassett in The Herald, which distributed copies of the otticial programme. Detending the unconventional publicity campaign, Bassett said: ‘We have chosen to release intormation in a
A ditterent way - the way to do it was to
get things into the public domain as soon as possible. Like all organisations, it [Maytest] needs to look torward, not back. We really need to reinvent it.’ (Kathleen Morgan) Maytest starts on 27 April. The ticket hotline is 0141 305 7666.
The List 7-20 Apr 1995 5