Inner City Redevelopment Case Study – GLASGOW

Throughout its history Glasgow has been hit hard by changes in industry and city planning.  At its worst, up to one third of people in the city were unemployed, buildings have been demolished and the river passing through the city is no longer a shipping centre.

During the 19th Century there was a large boom in industry based around coal, iron and steel.  An industrial boom began with mass shipbuilding along the Clyde, with many fine buildings built, a time when Glasgow was considered the second city of the British empire.  had a very high population density, with many tenement buildings built.  There was a sense of community and good cinemas and shops.  The level of employment was very high, and people expected the government to make jobs available.  In the early and mid 1800s many four or five storey blocks were built from stone, but often too quickly, and with poor workmanship, to cater for the large number of people moving into Glasgow.

Many people lived all in one room and rats were often in buildings.  It was hard to keep these tenement blocks clean and housing and living conditions were poor.

In 1957, 29 comprehensive redevelopment areas were chosen.  In essence people were moved out, buildings were knocked down, and new ones rebuilt.  This seemed like the correct way to deal with the problem at the time, and new, very high, multi-storey flats were built in many areas of the town.

The flats helped to reduce the massive overcrowding, and were very economical.  At the time people were very enthusiastic to move into them, however, they soon became a significant burden, since they separated communities, and children had nowhere to play.  Damp became a problem due to poor construction and neglect to the buildings.  These were abandoned in 1974 as it was seen that they created a ‘dead heart’.  Later, other methods (as mentioned below) were implemented to a greater extent, and those blocks which still exist have been re-vamped to be more appealing for residents.

Industrial estates were also formed to try and provide more jobs for the large numbers of unemployed in the inner city.  Good transport links were established and collections of small industries all placed around single sites.  To attract companies, the local government offered grants for equipment and supplies, and reduced tax for short periods.  These were successful, however, there are still many more applicants, than there are positions available, still causing 25,000 people to leave Glasgow every year.

Finally, tenements that had not been knocked down were modernised as long as the structure was sound, being re-wired, re-plumbed and totally re-made internally.  These houses were very popular, and around 10,000 families have been re-housed in renovated tenements.

For more information on Glasgow, and inner city areas in general, see Understanding GCSE Geography by Ann Bowen and John Pallister, p.134-135 and The Wider World by David Waugh, p.28-29.