Neilston: Space to Live

The Group
Neilston: Space to Live aims to develop and implement a community-based public space strategy to reflect and enrich the common life of Neilston in East Renfrewshire.

What were they trying to achieve?
The aims was to produce a spatial strategy through a cultural process of finding out more about how people live, use their time and use the spaces of the village, and what they might like to change. The research and development activities were intended to provide the content of a brief for professional designers.

How did they go about it?
There were several elements to the process, including:

  • a day school for the committee
  • a public workshop event
  • informal community feedback, including The Neilson Live! Festival
  • visits and presentations by international design experts
  • a residents' survey carried out at the Neilston Show, with 165 respondents
  • the Big Do: a major design workshop over a weekend involving full range of planning and design professionals, local organisations and business and local people.  Danish consultants from the office of Jan Gehl, internationally respected specialists on the subject of people and place, facilitated this workshop, which culminated in a community presentation and social event, showing back to the people of Neilston the propositions they had collaborated in creating

What did they learn?
The long-term success of the Space to Live enterprise relies on:

  • communicating to local people the ambition of ideas generated at the workshops
  • achieving acceptance of these essentially 'external' inputs into the workings of the local authority system e.g. in the Local Plan review process

What difference did it make?
Space to Live began to submit further funding applications.  It also applied to register the community's interest the Neilston bank building under the community right to buy legislation (the Lan Reform Scotland Act 2003).  To do this, a new company, Neilston Development Trust, was incorporated.

The group entered into discussions with Architecture and Design Scotland, the body created by the Scottish Executive to improve the quality of the built environment, about the possibility of resources to facilitate a conclusion to the Space to Live process.