Glasgow City Council has recently put in a planning application for an active travel plan within Pollok Park. Great, you may say, a reform of the traffic within the park is long overdue. Indeed, if you have visited the park in the last few months, you will have noticed that following the recent Covid-19 exclusion of traffic it is a much friendlier, calmer and more peaceful place. It is the park that we always wanted and is full of families using the roads without any cares of traffic.
So what is the plan? There is too much to describe sensibly in in this short note, but it essence the plan is to close the main entrance on Pollokshaws Road and replace it with a main entrance/exit at Nether Pollok on Haggs Road where the current main exit exists. It is also proposed that a new carpark be constructed on the disused red blase pitch(es). The aims described in the Access & Orientation Design & Access Statement focus on aspirations to improve public transport links, improve active travel networks, prioritise pedestrian and cyclist access within the park, and to positively link the park to the active travel network to make the park easily accessible both on foot and by bike. There is also a mention of actively managing vehicles within the park to prevent uncontrolled parking, but that is buried in the text.
So what do the plans actually show? If you dig down into the details, there are few concrete details on how the active travel to and within the park is to be enhanced, but there is plenty of detail as to how the managed parking spaces are to be increased from 341 to 556 spaces, an increase of 63%! On top of this, the plan is to build a brand new road within the park about 800m long which will mean the loss of about about 1/3 of a hectare of green space to new hard engineering. Is this what we want in Glasgow’s finest green area? How does the increase in parking discourage driving to the Park? This is 2020. There is a climate emergency.
I fully support the idea that we must encourage active travel to and within the park, but the way to do this does not so much lie with remodelling within the park itself. It lies with creating new segregated cycle facilities on the roads that link to the park; in better signage on bus services that pass by the park, and promotion of the idea that the park has excellent rail links via Pollokshaws West and Shawlands Stations. Neither of the latter bizarrely get a mention in the planning application.
This planning application is for a former time, a time when the paradigm was that you got in your car and drove to a destination. That time is past. Now is the time to cycle to the park, to walk, or to take the bus or train. This is what the Glasgow City Council should be promoting. Please go to the planning website and review and respond to the planning documents. Please note that time is short and responses must be in by Monday 6th July 2020.