In an agreement reached last week between Glasgow City Council and campaign group the Wyndford Residents Union, the authority accepted that it had failed ‘to adequately explain’ the decision earlier this year not to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before allowing proposals to flatten the 1960s towers.
Under the joint minute, the council will now make a fresh decision on whether to carry out a screening opinion to determine whether the EIA is required.
Campaigners – who have long had the backing of Macintosh, Fraser and Dunlop – told the AJ the latest development showed there was a ‘clear’ need for an assessment.
‘If this again finds no need for an EIA we will look to take this to judicial review once more,’ said Nick Durie, of the residents’ union.
‘It’s clear that an EIA should take place. The council has moved heaven and earth to avoid that and has found itself in legal hot water.’
The agreement follows a judicial review launched by the Wyndford Residents Union, who argue that housing association Wheatley Homes’ demolition plans for the four 26-storey towers required a prior EIA.
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told the AJ that it did not accept that the decision not to carry out an EIA was ‘irrational or otherwise not within the powers of the 2017 Regulations or that any other ground for review is justified, or should lead to the quashing of the [original] decision’.
‘The council has agreed to a fresh decision – a fresh screening opinion by another officer in our planning team,’ the spokesperson said. ‘We are in the process of doing that and do not want to prejudge the outcome of that assessment.’
Responding to the development, Macintosh told the AJ: ‘The courageous stand taken by the local residents, in this David and Goliath struggle, needs and deserves the backing of the Scottish government, which has committed itself to a policy of reducing emissions in conformity with the COP 26 declaration.
‘Wheatley Homes’ self-serving pretexts for demolition, unchallenged by Glasgow Council, that the flats are too small and unpopular are unconvincing, in the light of the fact that Scotland has the highest proportion of single-person households per head of population within the four regions of the UK.’
Fraser, director of Fraser/Livingston Architects, added: ‘It’s a tremendous victory and testament to the dogged professionalism of the Residents Union in carefully reminding these authorities that there are legal and environmental checks on them bludgeoning their way to degeneration.
‘I remain concerned at the extraordinary power I see the Wheatley Housing Group wielding. Given the Scottish Government’s constant promotion of net zero and Glasgow Council’s boasts of their “Retrofit Policies” and “Retrofit Summits”, the ongoing push to waste 600 social homes is from another, dreadful era.’
In June, Fraser published alternative proposals for the Wyndford estate to counter the demolition plans (see above). He argues that demolition would produce 22,465 tonnes of CO2 in comparison with 12,098 tonnes involved in retrofit.
A separate study for Wheatley Homes by MAST Architects, which also explored retrofitting the 200 bedsits and 400 one-bedroom homes, claimed the blocks were ‘not fit for purpose’ and could not be made larger to meet current minimum floor space standards.
Dunlop, of Alan Dunlop Architects, said: ‘This represents another victory by Wyndford residents in their long campaign against the needless demolition of the Wyndford flats and the destruction of their homes.
‘The campaign waged by the housing association was marred by them trumpeting misleading information and their refusal to meet with those residents and the community to help find a satisfactory resolution.’
Wheatley Homes, which is yet to name architects on the 300-home redevelopment of the 600-home Wyndford estate, declined to comment.
Glasgow and Scotland are committed to becoming net zero by 2030 and 2045 respectively, which the latest IPPC report argued involved retrofitting existing buildings.