Reinstating the historic link between Govan and Partick
In early 2022, construction started on a new pedestrian and cycle bridge which will reinstate the historic link between Govan and Partick. In October of this year, the main span of the bridge was sailed up the River Clyde by barge to arrive at Yorkhill Quay, close to the site where it will be installed.
The bridge is scheduled for completion in summer 2024 and once open it will form part of a high-quality active travel route between communities, academic institutions, businesses and visitor attractions on both banks of the river.
Despite being located on opposite banks of the River Clyde, the Govan and Partick areas of Glasgow shared a historical connection due to the ease with which the river could be crossed. As the River Clyde developed its role as a centre of industry it was widened and deepened; but the vital social and economic connection between communities was maintained through the provision of a ferry service.
In the late 20th century, the river lost its role as a seaway, a port and a centre of industry. The Govan Ferry service was ended following the opening of the Clyde Tunnel in the mid-1960s meaning that the ability to cross the river, one of the reasons for the historical development of Govan, was lost.
In 2015 Glasgow City Council hosted the Govan-Partick Charrette which brought together people from communities on both banks of the river to discuss their aspirations for the future of the area. The charrette formed the first stage of the implementation of a Strategic Development Framework for the area, and provided an environment for both communities to reach consensus on the strategic direction of the framework and to identify localised placemaking opportunities.
The charrette ran over three phases: community capacity building through schools workshops, community days and interviews; building momentum through advertising and social media; and holding a series of stakeholder workshops. The process demonstrated strong support for improved physical, social and economic links between the two communities on both sides of the Clyde, and identified three key outcomes: the importance of greater activity in, on or along the Clyde; revitalising a sense of place via a key north to south route from the Botanic Gardens to Bellahouston Park; and careful integration between commercial interests, civic provisions, and the community.
The combination of these outcomes identified the construction of a bridge as the epicentre of change to reinstate the historical cross-river connection as a local priority.
Officers successfully promoted inclusion of the bridge as an infrastructure project which promoted a shift away from a model that privileged regional transport movement towards one that favoured development of dense urban movement networks with a strong emphasis on place quality. In keeping with this approach, the new river crossing will be a cable-stayed swing bridge for the use of pedestrians, cyclists and wheelers and will form a key part of the City’s active travel network.
The project is being led by Glasgow City Council with Jacobs leading the design. An important aspect of the initial design brief was the requirement to engage with stakeholders to deliver a high-quality design. Early in the process it was agreed that the development of a Virtual Reality (VR) Model would offer a means of facilitating informed discussions between the design team and key stakeholders and provide an innovative way of engaging with ‘hard to reach’ groups.
In February 2020, members of the public were invited to a community engagement event where they were given the opportunity to experience the VR model and question the design team on emerging proposals. The use of the VR model, and the decision to host the event in public settings with high footfall helped to secure participation from groups that would not traditionally engage with the planning process. The VR model conveyed the scale, mass and visual impact of the proposed development in a way that would not have been possible using drawings and visualisations.
Once it is in place, the bridge will play a critical role in fostering the development of the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District and will enhance access to employment by delivering a 23% increase in jobs that are accessible within a 20-minute walk of Govan Cross and an 87% increase in the number of jobs within a 10-minute cycle of Govan Cross.