£5m to create new forest on Clyde for 2014

A WOODLAND park is to be created at a cost of £5million on a derelict site opposite the Commonwealth Games' Athletes Village in Glasgow's East End.

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  • New £5m park will be another legacy from 2014 Games

The land, at a bend in the River Clyde known as Cuningar Loop, has lain derelict for more than half a century.

Between 1810 and 1860 it was the location of several reservoirs that provided water to all Glasgow.

It has also been used for quarrying and mining and is where rubble from the demolition of large areas of the Gorbals was dumped into landfill.

But the area has been neglected for decades and is now covered with domestic rubbish, self- seeded trees and scrub.

Clyde Gateway, the regeneration agency, and Forestry Commission Scotland plans to transform the eyesore into a 37-acre park that will be used by more than 100,000 people a year.

A new pedestrian bridge will link the woodland directly into the Athletes Village, which will be converted into housing for the public after the Commonwealth Games.

The new park, which will be in South Lanarkshire, will be close to Rutherglen and directly across the river from Parkhead and Dalmarnock.

The plan is to create a mosaic of native woodland, open grassland and meadows with places to play and relax.

A community ranger will engage with people through a volunteer group and link up with schools to encourage them to use the woodlands for outdoor activities.

Trails and picnic areas will be provided and visitors will be able to walk or watch the wildlife.

A woodland apprenticeship scheme will be set up to create back-to-work projects.

The area will also be used by professional sports people for outdoor and river training, with links to the Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

A jetty will allow access to water based activities, there will be boats for hire and sports such as fishing will be encouraged.

There will be a cafe and toilets and the potential for woodland park holiday lodges will be explored.

Tom Wallace, who is project manager for the plan, said about 15,000 trees would be planted. These will mainly be native oak and silver birch, although maples and limes will also be planted for autumn colour.

He said: "The majority of the trees will be planted this winter and we are hoping to get the community involved.

"We are keen to ensure the existing communities have some really good quality, accessible green space on their doorstep.

"The brilliant regeneration work is exactly what the area is needing, but it does come with a huge amount of green space."

No name has yet been agreed for the park, although Mr Wallace favours keeping the name Cuningar, which is the old Scots word for a rabbit warren.

Stuart Chalmers, district forester with Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "This is an ambitious and exciting project that will provide an active and green heart in this important urban regeneration area, as well as a valuable legacy to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014."

The masterplan for the park says: "Cuningar Loop will be valued by the communities in South Lanarkshire and the city of Glasgow for its landscape value and access to the outdoors and healthy pursuits.

"The site will help drive positive economic change in the East End of Glasgow and make a valuable contribution to the Clyde Gateway."

Ian Manson, chief executive of Clyde Gateway, said a public consultation on the plans last year established widespread support for the project.

Work is expected to get under way early this year and be finished before the start of the Games.

Archie Graham, the city council's spokesman for the Games, said: "I cannot comment on an individual application to be considered, but there is tremendous activity in the city as we prepare for the Games.

"This activity will leave many different legacies for us after 2014, notably in economic, social and environmental terms as we see new facilities of all kinds delivered by these projects, which are perhaps most visible in Glasgow's East End."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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