The high life could solve Glasgow's housing problems

THE worst part of my old paper round was getting to the tower blocks.

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Even though they were just 10 minutes from where I lived in Aberdeen, as soon as you arrived at the front door you wanted to turn back.

It wasn't like the tenements or the four-up-four downs, where you always felt close to the street.

Inside the skyscraper landings, you felt claustrophobic, and it always seemed like you were miles away from anything.

And the fear of getting stuck inside the shaky lifts is probably the reason why stairs are always my first choice.

I covered a lot of the recent Red Road debate for the Evening Times and it got me thinking about tower blocks again.

Glasgow 2014 organisers planned to demolish five of the six remaining blocks during the opening ceremony, until they changed their mind over safety fears.

During that time I talked to dozens of people who had different views.

One of the opinions that stuck with me belonged to Elaine Ellis, who lived in the Pinkston Drive flats, and fought to try and save those Sighthill blocks from demolition. Although that campaign was unsuccessful, what surprised me was how passionate Elaine was about high-rise flats.

She talked about the stunning views across the city and beyond, right out to the Campsies, Cathkin Braes and even Arran on a clear day. She also praised the community elements gained from living near many people in a confined space and how spacious high-rise flats actually are.

Given that I'm flat hunting at the moment the space issue in particular struck a chord. There are so many tiny tenements across the city that are being snapped up at obscene prices.

House buyers would give their right foot for a slice of a single end in Woodlands.

Imagine if there were actually homes which were spacious and affordable?

I think high rises could fill that gap. On the other hand there are concerns that these blocks deteriorate over time.

Although lots of families had a happy time growing up there, Red Road declined because of rising crime levels and other anti-social problems.

But what if the council or housing association actually put time, effort and money into high rise flats? I'm not saying they should turn them into luxury apartments, I'm talking about homes that people can afford to live in - but are desirable.

There is an ongoing campaign - supported by high profile people, including Lord Baker, the former Tory home secretary, to try and stop a new London development to build 230 skyscrapers, most of which are residential.

High-rise flats are clearly out of fashion. But if they are not part of a solution to finding people homes they can afford then what is?

Local government

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