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Games must leave a legacy for Glasgow

Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games projects need to be planned for the benefit of the city, says Adam McGee

Having had the winter to enjoy the achievement of winning the fight to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Glasgow must now face up to the huge task it has to convert this opportunity into a success.

Massive amounts of money will be spent and if the Games are to be judged as a success in the years that follow them, the money spent must work for Glasgow in the long term.

Scotland has hosted the Games twice and in 1986 when they were last staged, in Edinburgh, the city faced significant financial difficulties in paying for the work that was done.

Just over 20 years later there is little beneficial legacy remaining from the event.

There is no doubt that in terms of profile, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 will be a huge shot in the arm to Glasgow.

The main area to benefit from the Games will be the East End, which has fallen on hard times.

In particular, the focus will be on the Athletes’ Village, the National Indoor Sports Arena and the National Velodrome that are being centred on this part of Glasgow.

For the Athletes’ Village, the challenge lies in incorporating it into what already exists.

Take a walk past many of the new housing developments in and around Scotland’s cities and it is easy to see that rather than adding to the local area, they actually act as boundaries.

The village cannot simply be an isolated residential development that is out of place and ineffectual at bringing change to the local area. There must be an overall development style and over-arching strategy into which all of the work fits.

This does not mean things have to be done on a uniform basis but if the design of the project is sophisticated enough, it will encourage further investment in the area and make it easier to convert it into a thriving residential community and cement its benefits for the long-term.

There must be an interaction created between the old and new buildings - either through the amenities built on the site or the way it is built out into the surrounding area.

Long-term asset for city

Getting this right will require the ability of those involved to keep the bigger picture in focus and not become myopic to the long-term requirements of the project.

This is also the case with the National Indoor Sports Arena and the National Velodrome being built alongside the Athletes’ Village.

It is not just about getting the sites ready for the athletes, but about turning them into long-term assets for Glasgow.

No-one needs to be reminded of the Millennium Dome and the wrangling that took place over how to put it to best use. These are mistakes that Glasgow must learn from.

Glasgow has a wonderful opportunity to showcase the excellence of its design and construction industries and, if it gets things right, create a well-deserved and long-lasting boost for parts of the city that desperately need it.

Adam McGee is director of Scotland at Capita Architecture

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