Historic high-rise blocks to be demolished due to fire safety risk

Plans to tear down high-rise blocks at 305 and 341 Caledonia Road to get under way after buildings deemed a 'fire safety risk.'

The Gorbals is set for further transformation following the submission of demolition proposals for two high-rise blocks of flats. 

Plans to bring down the tower blocks at 305 and 341 Caledonia Road were presented to Glasgow City Council last month, citing a fire safety risk. 

An assessment in 2019 found the risk could “only be permanently reduced” by removing cladding and timber balconies installed in the 1990s. 

After consultation with residents, it was decided public investment would be “better directed at rehousing the existing tenants, demolishing the buildings and funding a new-build programme of replacement housing”. 

Fraser Stewart, director of the New Gorbals Housing Association, told STV that they “would never be able to bring them up to modern standards”. 

“They’re 60 years old, the concrete is bound to have got sickness by now,” he said. “There are a whole host of issues that would have cost a fortune to do them up.” 

Mr Stewart added: “They were great buildings in their day. They were good places to stay, but people prefer to move on to something better.” 

Residents overwhelmingly supported the demolition proposals, and the vast majority have now been rehomed locally under a rehousing programme which began in April 2021. 

Replacement social housing consisting of around 150 houses and flats is planned for the site. 

“We’re delighted that we were able to give people good moves,” Mr Stewart said, “and hopefully another chapter in their lives in the Gorbals and the Gorbals community. 

“It will be a far better housing mix. It will be to the same standards of design and architecture that’s been done in the last 30 years in the Gorbals, so it will be a great finish to the regeneration of the Gorbals.” 

He praised the community’s efforts in regenerating the area, adding: “The housing association is owned by the community. It’s a community-run organisation, and when I say ‘ownership’ I really mean that.  

“They’re not consulted, they are the community, so everything we do has got to go by the committee and local folk. 

“If it’s not up to their standards, then it just doesn’t get done. Architects have to go the extra mile and design something fantastic before folk in the Gorbals are going to take it.” 

It forms yet another generation of housing for the Gorbals, which has undergone vast regeneration efforts in the last few decades. 

The district was once known for its overcrowded, dilapidated Victorian tenements. Notorious for their slum-like conditions, these buildings were taken down as part of comprehensive post-war redevelopment in the 1950s under the Glasgow Corporation. 

In their place rose concrete tower blocks – heralded as a new standard of living. 

Life in the sky was seen as the promising way forward in comparison to the derelict tenements. At the peak of the redevelopment, the Gorbals was home to 16 looming structures. 

But this was to be short-lived, with much of their designs being inadequate or impossible to maintain. 

Soon residents once again found themselves facing poor conditions and high crime levels. 

And so down they came, beginning with the flats in Hutchesontown Area E in 1987 and Sir Basil Spence’s infamous Queen Elizabeth Square blocks in 1993. 

Over the years, other high rises met the same fate, leaving just six standing to date. 

The future of the Caledonia Road blocks will be now be determined by planning officials, who will make the call as to whether prior approval of demolition needs to be provided by the council. 

Documents submitted to the council stated the final demolition method for the two blocks, and a single-storey concierge office, won’t be determined until a contractor has been selected. 

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