Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The giant hogweed farms see bumper crops in 2019

Coming along the path along the River Clyde near Cambuslang, it was hard not to miss this years apparently bumper crop of giant hogweed springing up along the riverbank.

It may not be all that warm, but combined with the recent damp spell, these things seem to be thriving, and look as if they are set to fill any available space down there.

These are already as tall as man, taller in fact, since these pics were taken from the path overlooking the river, and are easily level with (and above) my head. The ground they are rising from is about a metre below my feet.

Don’t forget the sap from these plants can render skin ultra sensitive to sunlight if it comes into contact with it, potentially leading to huge blisters, and even scarring.

Giant Hogweed 2019

Giant Hogweed 2019

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14/06/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

17-storey building on Clyde Street nears completion

I recently expressed personal concern regarding an application for permission to build an 18-storey building near the Clyde.

The development of 324 flats would sit at the corner of Kingston Street and Commerce Street, in the south east corner of the Tradeston site.

Documents submitted by architects Stallan-Brand state the building, with two 18-floor towers, “will play a key role in Glasgow’s skyline, in particular when entering the city from the south”.

AIMING High With Major Build-To-Rent Towers At Buchanan Wharf

It might just be me, but I’m not impressed by arrival of such tall structures, especially along the river, where they give a few lucky people a nice view – but cut off the view for everyone else.

Worse still if they also result in access to the river being denied if the owner decides to fence ‘their’ section off and prevent public access.

You can actually find one such spot on the south bank of the River Clyde in the section between the Tradeston footbridge and the Kingston Bridge.

Walking, or cycling, along the footpath find the way barred by a fence placed across the path at the flats there.

In fact, once you return to the path and make your way along the riverbank past the Springfield Quay shopping centre, when you arrive at the Pacific Quay apartments, your way is barred again, and you have to head onto the streets once again, in order to continue.

I haven’t checked, and I haven’t noticed any challenges, but a little voice at the back of my head is suggesting that this closure of public access to the few metres of land constituting the riverbank is not legal, and right of way along that band of land cannot be denied. I’m almost sure I read of homeowners somewhere towards Hamilton and Motherwell who had fenced of the riverbank at the bottom of their gardens, and denying walkers access to walk along the riverbank, were challenged in court. I think they get told to remover the fences, but just put them back after a while, and the whole stupid thing repeats.

However…

Irritating as that is, that’s not really my concern here.

I’m just disappointed if the city fathers’ original concept of tenement size buildings no more than 4 or 5-storeys high is to be forgotten, and once 17 and 18-storey building are permitted, it’s not hard to see that no developer is going to resist the option of increasing their profits by increasing the number of storeys, and this number is slowly pushed higher and higher.

I don’t have any problems with developments, but worry that they may not be appropriate, or jammed into the wrong place.

Note how this one started as one type of development, and was then changed to something different:

AN operator has been confirmed for a new 290-room multi-storey hotel beside the Clyde in Glasgow.

The 17-storey structure on Clyde Street, which is substantially complete, is to become the first Tribe hotel in Europe.

Tribe is a new brand launched by Accor Hotel Group. The Glasgow location is to be a “vibrant lifestyle hotel with a bar, restaurant and co-working space.”

The hotel, which will also include part of neighbouring premises at Riverside House, 260 Clyde Street, is due to open in the autumn.

A gym, cafe and meeting rooms for the hotel will be provided at ground floor and mezzanine level in Riverside House with internal openings being created between the two buildings.

The new building was originally intended to be student accommodation but planning permission for use as a hotel was sought instead in response to a change in the market.

SEVENTEEN-Storey Glasgow Riverfront Hotel Will Be First In Europe For New Brand

18-storey Clyde riverbank hotel

18-storey Clyde riverbank hotel

I almost caught this place recently. Refurb underway adjacent, and structure being assembled on right.

Clyde Walkway Second Tiger Mural

Clyde Walkway Second Tiger Mural

Incidentally, have you noticed how many building in Glasgow have become hotels, or were new buildings?

I just happened to start looking at the signs on building as I passed them, and was gobsmacked at the number which turned out to be hotels when I looked closer at the signs.

I wonder if anyone has counted them all, and compared the number to past years?

Or if there is perhaps a summary of the number of hotel rooms Glasgow has to offer?

05/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a shame that development plans along the Clyde attract so many naysayers

After following the news for years, it’s become fairly obvious that the only people regularly motivated to respond to articles can be assumed to be naysayers, those who just say ‘NO!’ to virtually any proposals that see any sort of change being proposed.

Try following some longer running or significant stories related to change, and I think you’ll find I’m generally right.

One such subject that often brings them out from under their stones is development along the banks of the River Clyde, and while it’s right that this should be subject to review, it’s also just plain stupid for people to jump up and shout ‘NO!’ before it’s clear what is being done, why it’s being done, and what the result will be.

The naysayers have, of course, been nowhere to be seen as the area along the banks of the river have slowly declined and become deserted over the years, but as soon as any proposals are made to reverse that decline, out they come, shouting ‘NO!’, almost before the proposals have been seen and reviewed, let alone any plans presented.

You can look at the moron comment sections after coverage of this material in the media to see what I mean. There, you’ll find not only the naysayers gathering just to say ‘NO!’ for no reason other than to say ‘NO!’, but others who apparently oppose the whole idea because it will hand money to big business. Interesting idea. Where were those people when money was being handed to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but not to Tollcross Park winter garden? You’ll never find them when they’re really needed.

However, I’m only going to refer specifically to the reGlasgow article below, where you can see a more balanced presentation of the possible changes, together with a structural analysis referring to the construction of the river’s banks, and why they can’t sustain heavy loads, and need investment to strengthen them if anything substantial is ever to be added – should that be part of a later planning submission.

MAJOR investment aimed at transforming the Custom House Quay stretch of the River Clyde in Glasgow is being proposed.

City council officials are recommending that £25million of Glasgow City Deal money is spent on a new quay wall, 20 metres into the river.

Also proposed is public realm to enhances existing access and connectivity and creation of development platforms to bring activity to the area.

A report to councillors states: “Custom House Quay is the City Centre’s main frontage to the River Clyde and covers the stretch of river between Victoria Bridge and Glasgow Bridge.

“Although Custom House Quay has benefited from limited public realm investment in the past it is not of sufficient environmental quality to attract footfall to the river edge particularly in the evenings when the area is perceived as a hostile environment which encourages anti-social behaviour.

“A condition report undertaken by consultant engineers Fairhurst Limited concluded that the quay wall at this location is in poor condition — the vast majority of the structure is of perched timber construction and is of a similar age to the recently collapsed wall at Windmillcroft Quay.

“The report noted costs in the order of £10million to address structural issues through the construction of a new sheet-piled quay wall.

“Concerns about the structural integrity of the quay wall mean that use of this section of the waterfront for large-scale events is discouraged although the site can still support limited smaller scale events in the upper sections adjacent to Clyde Street.”

VISION For Glasgow’s Custom House Quay Riverfront Set For £25Million Boost

I remember when the area along the Clyde was buzzing with people, and crowded in the evenings too, as there used to be entertainment facilities there, but that all disappeared some years ago, and the are is generally deserted.

Even cycling along the Clyde Walkway there can be risky on dark evenings. I now opt for Argyle Street and Trongate, which feels a lot safer.

The area is very similar in abandonment and desertion to that mentioned previously for High Street.

The two meet just below Saltmarket, and form a fairly dire and deserted corner these days.

Both are in need of the sort of revival which has been proposed recently, and has started along High Street.

Glasgow City Council marketing visualisation of how the riverfront could look

Glasgow City Council marketing visualisation of how the riverfront could look

03/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Braehead 360 – just for fun

Since I’d been having some reasonable success with stitching images together to catch some local building facades (where it wasn’t possible to stand far enough back to catch them in a single shot, or without a ridiculously wide/expensive lens), I thought I’d have a bit of fun with some shots I’d taken along the River Clyde, at Braehead.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough to try this, and the result suggests I was one short, but it did almost work, and gave me some clues for the future, if I try it again, more seriously.

There’s one disjoint in the middle of the final view.

And it seems that while the wide shots can be handheld, going for a full 360 really needs the camera on a tripod, to make sure it stays perfectly level as it is rotated – but then again, for free, I’m not complaining.

I did make sure it was level, but clearly didn’t quite manage to keep the horizon line properly centred, so it’s a bit wavy.

I’d probably also avoid the full 360 if I try this trick again, and limit things to less than full rotation. The gap would then let me decide where the view starts and finishes. In the view below, the software decided the best/worst edge matches, and has no option for setting a start/finish – which is no surprise since it’s not designed to do 360s. I was just playing with it to see what it would do. It could have refused to work, as it sometimes does if don’t take pics correctly and the edges can’t be matched.

I might give this another go at some time.

I’d put the deliberate break in the middle of the sequence, so the panorama was centred on the river, rather than the shopping centre.

Click for bigger.

Braehead Clyde Stitch

Braehead Clyde Stitch

Oops – oh silly me…

I don’t have to go back, just leave out the offending disjointed image from the original set!

In fact, I actually ended leaving out TWO of the original images.

Leaving out the disjointed one (with the right-hand part of the seating) forced the desired river panorama, but then I found that dropping the adjacent image with the left part of the seating had the desirable side-effect of levelling out the previously wonky finished view (so it must have been out of line).

Also, things like that handrail have to be placed to appear in full in only ONE shot, and not across two. Being so close to the camera shooting wide angle shots mean they vary wildly in size when seen close, large in the centre, but then smaller when they are off-centre. See the difference between the handrail section on the left of the pic, compared to that seen on the right.

This view is also a reminder to set MANUAL exposure for such a series of shots, to avoid the vertical banding evident in these finished views – but it was only a test.

Click for bigger.

Braehead Clyde Stitch Two

Braehead Clyde Stitch Two

05/05/2019 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Will an 18-storey complex on the River Clyde get planning permission?

I will await with interest the outcome of a planning application for an 18-storey build-to-rent complex at the Buchanan Wharf development near River Clyde close to Glasgow city centre.

The development of 324 flats would sit at the corner of Kingston Street and Commerce Street, in the south east corner of the Tradeston site.

Documents submitted by architects Stallan-Brand state the building, with two 18-floor towers, “will play a key role in Glasgow’s skyline, in particular when entering the city from the south”.

AIMING High With Major Build-To-Rent Towers At Buchanan Wharf

This seems to me to be a shocking plan for the area, and I hope it goes the way of most such ridiculously high developments – and gets thrown out.

A look at the surrounding area shows that the proposed towers are about TWICE the height of most the existing building in the surrounding area.

It’s been pointed out in the past that some developers seem to determined to virtually cut off public access and public view to the river front, and create a nice little closed environment for their tenants.

Those that can afford to get to the river can enjoy it, while the rest of us end up being excluded, not only from access, but even most of the view.

Click for bigger.maps

Buchanan Wharf Development pic credit Drum Property Group via reGlasgow

Buchanan Wharf Development pic credit Drum Property Group via reGlasgow

There was one positive line.

For 324 flats…

There will be 324 secure cycle parking spaces. A ground floor car park will have 16 spaces.

I wonder how that will go down with the planning department?

Do the proposers really think there will be a mere 16 car owners living there?

Or is it more likely some 300 cars will somehow ‘vanish’ into the surrounding streets?

How about friends and visitors? Do they fold up their cars and stick them in their back pocket if they decide to visit?

16/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Lifebelt and rope

An unplanned trip to Braehead brought an unexpectedly quick sample of a lifebelt with rope attached, as mentioned in yesterday’s post about the council acting to update such installations, following loss of life where lifebelts could not be retrieved and thrown again if they were not thrown near enough to persons in difficulty, and drifted away.

Braehead Roped Lifebelt

Braehead Roped Lifebelt

It’s years since I last visited Breahead – when Clydebuilt closed (museum opened from 1999 – 2010, but I don’t know when I last dropped in there), I had no real reason to go there as there’s not really anything else there that I can’t find closer to home.

Going only from memory, the shopping centre seems to be less impressive than it was when I there all those years ago, and changed too. I’m sure I remember ramps and underground car parking, which I didn’t seem to see, but I wasn’t driving this time.

On the other hand, now I know how to get there easily (via public transport, so I can carry stuff), it could be handy, as there are a few (big) shops there that seem to hold different stock ranges compared to those nearer to me.

23/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Significant improvement being made to river safety

I’ve featured the lifebelts that can be found along the River Clyde a few times, but mainly just as interesting features, rather than for anything to do with their true purpose.

That said, this was serious: More graffiti scum tagging

While this one was more light-hearted: Would you rather drown or be electrocuted?

On the whole, I don’t see the lifebelts being vandalised much in the spots where I walk (but assume some are regularly abused in some areas), and was pleased to see those bright markers appearing, making it easy for anyone to identify the spot where they may have to contact emergency services if one is used. It can be hard to give a location anywhere along the river, if it’s not in a built up area.

Following a fatality in the river, a campaign has led to another significant improvement being made to these potentially life-saving aids:

A couple whose son died after he fell into the River Clyde have welcomed the installation of rescue ropes to lifebelts along the water’s edge.

Christopher Spiers, 28, fell into the water in Glasgow city centre after a night out in January 2016.

Although police were able to throw in a lifebelt, there were no ropes to have another go when it did not reach him.

His parents Duncan and Margaret have been campaigning to improve safety along the river.

Mr and Mrs Spiers launched a campaign to get ropes put on lifebelts so there could be repeated attempts to throw them.

Glasgow City Council has announced an action plan on river safety and has started to attach ropes to lifebelts.

It also pledge to improve signage warning of the danger of deep, cold water.

Mr Spiers said he wanted MSPs at Holyrood to extend this to all Scotland’s waterways.

River death parents welcome lifebelt changes

Our lovely see-saw weather, and a change in normal routes followed means I haven’t been near many lifebelt sites, or seen any with ropes attached, but I will be watching for them, and add a pic to the blog when I do.

This pic accompanied the article, and appears to show one such installation near the Kingston Bridge.

River Clyde lifebelt with rope

River Clyde lifebelt with rope

22/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Nice to see progress reported with TS Queen Mary

Having mentioned the depressing lack of interest with regard to some maritime projects and vessel rescues (which I won’t divert into here), it’s actually quite nice to be able to mention positive progress with regard to the TS Queen Mary, now permanently berthed on the River Clyde next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

I even managed some pics (in better weather than we have now – I haven’t been down there for ages, and only passed quickly a few weeks ago, during the ‘warm’ spell). Still there 🙂

TS Queen Mary

TS Queen Mary

It makes a nice change not to be mentioning some bad news about one such project.

The Princess Royal has backed efforts to restore a historic steamship, which is berthed in Glasgow.

The TS Queen Mary, which is undergoing a multimillion pound refurbishment, returned to the city for the first time since 1977 in November 2016.

Friends of TS Queen Mary said Princess Anne’s decision to become the ship’s royal patron was a “huge honour” which would boost the restoration work.

The steamer was named after her great-grandmother Queen Mary.

Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary Iain Sim said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become our Royal Patron.

“This is a great boost for our ongoing work to restore this British icon to her former glory and to preserve her for future generations.”

The TS Queen Mary was built in 1933 and was affectionately called “The Glasgow Boat”, having sailed daily from Broomielaw.

Trustees say that once restoration works are complete, the TS Queen Mary will offer educational experiences for school pupils.

It will also be offered as a venue for functions.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “I’m incredibly proud to support this multi-faceted project to refurbish and promote this iconic steamer as an exciting visitor attraction as well as an educational, interactive maritime experience.

“Its permanent berth at Glasgow Science Centre is the perfect location for what was once the world’s largest and most luxurious Clyde pleasure steamer.”

Princess Royal backs Glasgow’s TS Queen Mary restoration

12/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Regeneration plans to thwart naysayer and climate change deniers

As somebody who spent a fair few hours of their working life wandering the various shipyards and businesses that once lay along the River Clyde to the west of the city centre, it’s funny to look at how deserted that same area has become in recent years.

Not only have many of those varied business gone, many of the sites they occupied have also been razed and cleared, leaving little to show where they once lay.

This would have been hard to see clearly from the ground, but thanks to tools such as Google Earth, it’s possible for anyone to ‘fly’ over all these places today, and compare them to the past.

Some parts have been regenerated or redeveloped with housing and other features, but a wander along the river shows that there’s probably more deserted area than reused now, and that many of the formerly occupied sites remain derelict today.

There are some ‘backward looking’ nostalgic types who keep calling for shipyards to be planted on the Clyde, but that’s never going to happen with our wages and costs. Those people notably fail to reveal how to finance such yards, or who would but the hugely expensive ships built  in them.

Fortunately, there are a few who can look forward rather than backwards, and plans for redeveloping and regenerating these areas are dependent on looking at change.

Despite flooding concerns, plans to regenerate the River Clyde are moving forward.

The Glasgow Strategic Development Framework (SDF) has been set up to create houses and transform isolated visitor destinations along the river by 2050.

A proposal has identified an approach that would make areas from Govan to Glasgow Harbour more accessible by linking them via a footbridge.

Those involved in the project want to achieve a sheltered water or habitat for wildlife and uncover hidden gems within forgotten parts of the city by linking Govan and Partick by building a bridge.

Those working on the framework have been in conversation with SEPA to ensure flooding can be prevented along the river and allow the project to continue.

Michael Ward of the Glasgow SDF told the Hillhead partnership: “There is a flooding issue and we are engaging with SEPA to see how this can be resolved.

“We are aware of the implications if the river rises by one metre or more. We need to conduct a feasibility study.

“We see this as a long-term vision for the area. There is a lot of potential for the river and we need to maximise that.

“We need to build up activity and vibrancy along the river corridor and prioritise areas which can be included in the strategy from Govan to Glasgow Harbour.”

It is hoped that by constructing a footbridge, visitors will be more likely to visit Govan and its historical assets.

Flooding fears over River Clyde development plans in Glasgow

A couple of items jumped out of these proposals, for me at least.

First was “Concerns were raised that boats navigating along the River Clyde would not be able to sail under the new bridge.

I found that slightly amusing, given how the bridges ALREADY added to the river in recent years have significantly reduced access.

But that doesn’t mean ignoring such access, which the planners clearly are NOT forgetting.

Second has to be the reference to rising water levels “We are aware of the implications if the river rises by one metre or more. We need to conduct a feasibility study.

Easily dealt with just ensuring Climate Change Deniers are selected for this development, then things can proceed without worrying about rising water levels.

(Just kidding, water levels are rising, and deniers have become a minority in danger of extinction – unless they paid lobbyists.)

Let’s never forget problems are there to be solved – there used to be a yard building ships upriver of the Clyde Tidal Weir.

And they were so big the only way to get them over the weir was to pick the right time and tide, and float them over.

didn’t always work, and local history tells of the day one almost got stuck – but the did manage to get it over

Clyde Tidal Weir From West

Clyde Tidal Weir From West

25/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Planners go to chip shop – get reheats!

Clyde floating village with catI wonder if I am the only person who has noticed that a draft proposal seen today is perhaps inspired by something we saw eight years ago, way back in 2011?

A DRAFT blueprint for regeneration around the Clyde in Glasgow proposes allowing development of hotel, restaurant and residential structures on the water itself.

The possibility of semi-permanent floatingng structures/floating architecture is raised in Glasgow City Council’s River Clyde Corridor Strategic Development Framework (SDF), which is currently the subject of consultation.

The document states that, in areas such as Pacific Quay, “pressure on land for economic commercial development may result in the water space itself becoming viable” for various uses “to support a more vibrant populated neighbourhood in the Canting Basin or the Graving Docks. ”

WATER-Based Buildings Floated In Blueprint Aiming For Buoyant Glasgow River Districts

I have to admit to having had a bit of fun with the proposal back then, and there never seemed to be any follow-up or progress to suggest otherwise.

Back in 2011, this was the intro…

Plans have been unveiled for a £30m floating leisure village on the south bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow.

Under the proposal, a u-shaped floating road would be built at Canting Basin, which is part of Prince’s Dock at the back of the city’s Science Centre.

This would lead to a mix of office buildings, studio flats and town houses with their own private moorings.

If planning permission is granted and private funding can be found the complex could be in place by 2015.

Floating Concepts chief executive, David Beard, said: “All great coastal cities have a prime waterfront destination and now Glasgow has the chance to join those ranks.

“The iconic nature of a floating village will turn the Canting Basin into a major attraction quite unlike any other in the world, as well as being a dynamic centre for local people and businesses.”

The firm will now approach Glasgow City Council with a view to submitting an outline planning application.

If this is granted, and private finance for the deal can be found, work could start by the summer of 2012, with completion in two to three years.

Floating village plan unveiled for River Clyde (2011 article)

This time around, the plans have a 30-year time scale, not 3!

However, it will be interesting to see if there is any sort of further progress with the idea past the proposal stage, or if this revival goes the same way as most reheats.

The difference is obvious, being a city/council initiative with a wider plan, rather than a private development.

Click here for the NEW consultation

Floating village from 2011

Floating village from 2011

 

22/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

More graffiti scum tagging

It’s hard to convey just how much contempt I hold for so-called graffiti artists and taggers, who think the world deserves to see their crap as they vandalise and damage people’s property.

As always, this does NOT extend to those working with permission.

In this case, some worthless little tagger chose to vandalise a lifebelt alert sign AND showed extreme disrespect by doing it next to someone’s memorial tribute.

Now that I see it with fresh flowers laid, I’m guessing someone died here, either drowned in the river, possibly an accident, or perhaps a suicide who jumped from the old Polmadie Footbridge, which lay just to left of this pic (and is now the new Polmadie Footbridge).

I don’t know the details, and queried the reason for a bottle of water being tied to the railings (fence) here. Original pic and query here: River Clyde pilgrimage point

Lifebelt Sign Vandalised At Memorial

Lifebelt Sign Vandalised At Memorial

Impressive fence painting too – dribbling nicely down from the top of the sign.

08/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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