Vicarfield Street Homes and Community Allotment


Building owner/client:

Govan Housing Association

Architect or lead designer:

Anderson Bell Christie

Local Authority Area:


Nominating Body:

Govan Community Growers Association

Project Description

The Vicarfield Housing Development and Community Allotment were designed as part of a regeneration project that was constructed on the site of a disused high school in 2009. Given that our area is listed as an area of multiple deprivation the aim was to build 61 affordable homes for rent and 20 homes for first-time buyers that were affordable with the support of NSSE shared equity. The completed homes are fantastic value for money with fully fitted kitchens, fitted wardrobes and bathrooms. Four of the properties were designed to be fully accessible for local people with wheelchairs. The architects opted for red brick and metal detailing to reinforce the area’s industrial heritage, and the sawtooth layout of the townhouses echoes the pattern of the bays of the adjacent tenement block on Southcroft Street. As well as having a positive impact on the aesthetic appeal of our community the regeneration project has also had a positive impact on environmental sustainability. We are proud to report that the homes exceed expectations of Building Standard regulations in terms of carbon emissions (maximum 15%) and achieved a rating of “Very Good” from Ecohomes. The external and close lighting is low maintenance LED which emits minimal carbon emissions as compared to standard lighting. Another project aim was to design a growing space that would allow and encourage residents to cultivate their own fruit and vegetables. The practice of cultivating an allotment is known to have significant health benefits therefore it was considered crucial to provide this facility as a core outcome of the project. The allotment contains 19 plots which were offered to residents before the wider community. One plot is larger than the others to accommodate the needs of a wheelchair user and a communal building with lockers, toilet facilities and a kitchenette is also provided. The allotment is being nominated for a sustainability award administrated by Glasgow Allotment Forum & Glasgow City Council this year. The community allotment, which we believe to be the first of its kind in Glasgow, also boasts the only community orchard in Govan. It is now the home of 60+ apple trees and 3 prune trees – including several indigenous varieties – which will become, in time, a vibrant urban orchard that will help to purify our air and provide nutritious food for our community. The hedges bordering the garden plots not only bear edible produce but also encourage bio-diversity. The intention is that, in time, the produce from the garden will be used for the benefit of the wider community – in cooking classes for primary children, for example, or for communal picnics in the orchard. The community plots are already seen as a success.  Management of the allotment was handed over to the community in November 2013: they’ve just celebrated their 2nd AGM after receiving a city-wide award for a plot (St. Mungo New Plot-holders Award) and a visit from two MSPs in November last year. 

Supporting Statement

The project has been nominated because of the enormous impact it has had on our community, both in terms of aesthetic quality and provision of an essential service: 61 new homes for rent; 20 new homes for first-time buyers; 19 allotment plots; and 1 community orchard. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Govan Housing Association the community has new spacious, comfortable, affordable houses to live in - the houses not only look good but are good. The disabled houses are also well adapted with wet rooms and kitchens, which is a blessing to anyone who has had to care for someone disabled in ordinary housing. The benefits of the community allotment cannot be underestimated.  In fact, it has attracted the attention of members of Scottish Parliament who are currently revising national food-growing policy and legislation. There are currently 11 individuals and two local community groups benefiting from the allotment and there is a short waiting list.  They have held training workshops and a short course.

For individuals within the community it enhances physical and mental well-being by encouraging the adoption of a healthy and balanced nutritious diet that is rich in organic fruits and vegetables. It creates opportunities for social interaction as these are considered crucial for building confidence, improving communication & social skills and assisting in personal development. It enhances practical skills and knowledge through the provision of training sessions and delivery of workshops. It fosters an appreciation for local and global environmental issues,                                 those focused on sustainability and the advocation of practices such as recycling, reducing waste and reusing materials. It provides the means and teach for themselves and their families, thus reducing the cost of food bills and alleviating financial pressures. It inspires the wider community to grow their own organic food in order to benefit from tangible improvements to physical and mental well-being. It also contributes to purer air through the creation of dedicated urban green-spaces. It encourages social cohesion within the community by hosting open days, family events and an annual flower and vegetable show. Provide opportunities for learning through the facilitation of training and skills workshops that are accessible to the wider community. Improves the aesthetic appeal of the community and fosters a shared sense of pride in our local landscape. Addresses the carbon footprint through recycling, composting and the use of renewable energy. Raises awareness of sustainable practices such as the reduction and recycling of waste and the need to reuse valuable resources within the community. The design team’s brief was to create a project that raised aspirations within the community - it has exceeded all expectations.