A Red Road to Regeneration in Scotland?

Overview —

A Common Weal approach to urban regeneration.


Dr John H McKendrick

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The scale of economic, social and environmental challenges facing many localities in Scotland is indicative that regeneration matters, both to particular localities and to Scotland as a whole. However, it is important to exercise caution when reflecting on this evidence.

In theory, the need for regeneration strategies need not necessarily signify a national problem or a failing of earlier approaches to regeneration. On the other hand, in reality, the enduring status of the Raplochs, Riddries, Craigneuks, Easterhouses, Lincludens, Whitfields, Torrys and the like among Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas is suggestive of  the need for a bolder approach.


― Regeneration rarely enthuses, enrages or engages the national consciousness. More typically, regeneration is a local concern, focused on a particular neighbourhood or locality, initiated or directed by some extra-local regional or municipal agency, working to achieve some overarching national objective.

― In recognising the depth of problems and their persistence in particular places, there is a risk that simplistic conclusions are drawn, such as ‘regeneration is not working’ or ‘regeneration is not happening’ in Scotland. Although not intuitively lacking credibility, it is unhelpful to consider regeneration to have been an outright failure.

― Using the example of Red Road in North East Glasgow, this paper examines the successes and failures within regeneration strategy and lays out the principles that should be considered in future regeneration proposals.

― These principles include ensuring participatory democracy, scale up support for community-led regeneration, aspire to family-friendly communities and a call to regenerate as part of the fabric of society.

― Scotland has a rich tradition in regeneration work. Although not without success, there is a need for a sharpening of focus, greater accountability and active participation to ensure that regeneration is “for and by” its people.

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