Galashiels, the heart of Scottish borders, lies in the valley of Gala water. The town used to be flourished in the 19th century due to a boom in the textile industry. However, Galashiels endured a steady recession period because of the textile industry decline.
This project intends to revitalize the town center by enhancing both physical and virtual connections with in Galashiels. The regeneration proposal can contribute to build local identity of galashiels by achieving sustainability in social, economic and environmental aspects. Several strategies are proposed including alleyways- reopening, textile industry developing, building function re-purposing, etc.
- Town Center Footfall
Figure 1 shows the relationship of population and the number of woolen mills in the 19 century.
According to the Scottish Borders council, the situation of town center footfall is acceptable comparing to the other five towns. Figure 2 shows average weekly footfall in the borders town centers. The main trend of Galashiels town center footfall became relative stable in 2010. To keep the footfall trend we plan to emphasize textile industry and introduce apprenticeship to support it.
- Vacant Building
The census taken covered the urban area around Overhaugh street. From the data that based on residents in 2011 (Figure 3), retail and health are two main employment industries. However, the proportion of manufacturing should be increased with the promotion of textile industry, which also results in the changing of retailing type.
Although Galashiels has a great number of retail chain units (Figure 4) , there is a great vacancy rate in Galashiels (18%). There exists vacant units around Channel street and Douglas Bridge area. Furthermore, from observation, Overhaugh street is almost dead without any commercial function (Figure 5).
- Lack of Connections
Three main streets are single-oriented, which limits the visitors’ field of view and people may stop at Channel street instead of going inside(Figure 6).
There is also a lack of connection between the university and the town center. Students who are learning textile& design may feel trouble to find opportunities in the town center (Figure7).
- Skill Gaps
In the 2011 census, 22.9% UK residents had no qualification. However, in Galashiels, people with no qualification covered 25.8% (Figure 8). Furthermore, Galashiels lacks apprenticeship. That is to say, people in Galashiels has no opportunities to take the on-the-job training and this may lead to skills gap, which is also not conducive to the textile industry.
5. Age Distribution
From Figure 6, people over 60 covers 22.9% of the whole census area, which may result in the lack of local labors. Many young labor may prefer to seek opportunities out of the town. Therefore, we plan to provide more job opportunities to attract young labors to stay in Galashiels.
- Air Pollution
Moreover, through the conversation with the community, it is mentioned that the main problem of Galashiels that may occur in the next years should be the air pollution. Therefore, sustainable manufacturing process, recycling, greenery etc should be considered.
We are informed by local people during the workshop that residents in Galashiels have following expectations:
- A change of the area near market square, which is a historical site but people are not satisfies with the current situation of it.
- Walkability within the town but at the same time enough spaces for parking
- A plan to redesign the town gate near the Interchange.
Reacting to their expectations, we firstly located one of our sites in front of the bridge on Park Street and another one behind market square. To revitalize the town center of Galashiels, we plan to enhance the connections, both physical and virtual connections, within the town.
By re-purposing specific buildings and replacing some parking area along streets, there will be spaces for small alleyways, which will change the dominant positions of the three streets currently and make the town center more walkable. (car-free) Additionally, the whole area will be connected with green landscape belt with necessary infrastructures like chairs and lights on it to direct people to explore deeply into the center from Channel Street via Overhaugh Street to Bank Street rather than lingering along one of them.
In terms of virtual connections, the building behind market square will be replaced by a textile center (including a larger square in front of it, which will become a new central public space for people to take social activities), in which there will be exhibitions, conferences, lectures for tourists, local practitioners, students or professionals to get cutting edge information about textile industry development. Several other underused buildings within the town center will also be re-purposed with functions related to textile to cooperate with each other and contribute to the textile and economic development of Galashiels.
Similar to Galashiels, Neilston is also a small place but with a rich history, which has traditional agricultural and weaving industries. The village is a short train journey to central Glasgow, Scotland, which allows the development of factories and cotton mills. Besides above, The village has also several historic sites in village.
This project is directed by a vision of 2030, which includes a series of short, medium and long-term projects to ensure the town will develop continuously in the future.
This projects has several similar context with Galashiels, including not only the history and location, but also the specific strategies.
In the School gate and Upper & lower stations projects, the designer made use of specific building and area in the village to create new social benefit. The redesign of important area within a village may bring changes to people’s behavior. In our own proposal, we also planned to make change of two specific areas in Galashiels, namely the town gate near the Interchange and market square, aiming to create both an attractive town gate and public space for social activities.
In the Crofthead MILL project, the planners re-purposed the existing building and bring them new energy and characteristics, which will become a new attraction of the village in the future.Re-purposing existing buildings is also one of our solutions for Galashiels, which need low investment but easy to put into practice.
At last, the project Infill Development just demonstrates the possibilities of rearranging the streets and grey spaces within a village. In our proposal for Galashiels, we planned to reopen small alleyways and create connections that can directly lead people from the Interchange to the garden along Bank Street. By doing so, we try to enhance the connection and to change the situation in which Channel Street, Overhaugh Street and Bank street dominate people’s flow along west to east.
Skillfast-UK is a skills service provider led by employers. It provides educational services that related to the textiles and clothing industry, which aims to minimize the skills gap between the education and the skills requirements of employers in society.
When undergraduates suddenly facing the reality that they have to go into employment, they will always find a gap between the education they received and the reality. Therefore, it is important to promote apprenticeship which can provide both skills training and career advice. Afterwards, high-skilled workers with independent working ability can be provided, which will contribute to the textile industry revitalization.
The location of our area reacts to the suggestions from the workshop, including the town gate and the significant historical site market square, covering main commercial streets. The whole area of our proposal has the potential to be a new active center.
Galashielshistory.com, (2016). Galashiels Population and Inwards Migration 1851-1881. [online] Available at: http://galashielshistory.com/page2.html [Accessed 22 Feb. 2016].
Scotborders.gov.uk, (2016). Strategic Assessment – Downloads – Scottish Borders Council. [online] Available at: http://www.scotborders.gov.uk/downloads/download/1744/strategic_assessment [Accessed 22 Feb. 2016].
Scotborders.gov.uk, (2016). Main Report Summer 2015 – Retail survey – Downloads – Scottish Borders Council. [online] Available at: http://www.scotborders.gov.uk/downloads/file/5935/main_report_summer_2015 [Accessed 22 Feb. 2016].
Sustainablecitiescollective.com, (2016). A Connectivity Case Study | Sustainable Cities Collective. [online] Available at: http://www.sustainablecitiescollective.com/canin-associates/1104149/connectivity-case-study-saarbr-cken-germany [Accessed 22 Feb. 2016].
User, S. (2016). Renaissance Town. [online] Neilston Development Trust. Available at: http://www.neilstontrust.co.uk/what-we-do/town-charter/renaissance-town.html [Accessed 22 Feb. 2016].