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Dargavel Village - sustainable redevelopment of 4000 homes by 2035 is on track to be achieved

As urbanisation spreads worldwide, the need for sustainable land use and redevelopment becomes increasingly crucial. The Dargavel Village project near Glasgow, transforming the former Bishopton Royal Ordnance Factory into a thriving mixed-use community, exemplifies how repurposing land can benefit both the environment and residents.

Constructed in 1938, the Royal Ordnance Factory in Bishopton, Scotland, played a pivotal role in producing munitions during World War II.

Aerial view of former Bishopton ROF. Image by Stuart Patterson

The 2,365-acre brownfield site has been vacant since 2003 and is now being redeveloped in a joint venture led by British Aerospace, the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Enterprise.

The ambitious Dargavel Village project aims to create up to 4,000 new homes, schools, retail outlets, and green spaces. The development features a mix of affordable and market-rate homes, while commercial land will accommodate shops, offices, and other businesses. Light industrial and manufacturing businesses will utilise the industrial land. The development is also generating new employment opportunities, amenities, and boosting the local economy.

A key aspect of the redevelopment is the creation of the Dargavel Country Park, a vast 1,000-acre green space designed to promote biodiversity and public access to nature. Wetlands, woodlands, and meadows will provide various habitats for local wildlife, while also offering a recreational space for residents. The project team is collaborating closely with environmental experts to ensure that the park supports and nurtures native species.

Craigton Park. Image by Stuart Patterson

Dargavel Village has been thoughtfully designed with a focus on eco-friendly building techniques and responsible practices. Starting from a contaminated former explosives site presents particular problems in itself though. Innovative solutions were sought to these problems. These methods encompass various aspects of the development: Phytoremediation, the process of using plants to address contamination in soil and water bodies, offers an eco-friendly alternative to conventional remediation techniques. Traditional practices, such as "dig and dump," simply relocate contaminated soil to landfills without actually addressing the issue.

In contrast, Professor Neil Bruce at the University of York, who has been researching phytoremediation, explains, "Phytoremediation employs specific plant species that can extract pollutants like heavy metals, immobilise them within plant tissues, and allow for safe disposal through controlled incineration." His ground-breaking research, funded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), focuses on remediating land contaminated with explosives, such as the former ROF Bishopton site.

"The method we are developing combines bacteria's explosive compound breakdown capabilities with plants' processing abilities, producing plants that can extract highly toxic compounds commonly used in ammunition production," Professor Bruce said.

Despite the long timescales associated with plant growth and contaminant uptake, phytoremediation holds great promise for cleaning up numerous former military sites and improving the way we manage contaminated land. As Professor Bruce highlights, "Phytoremediation has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach land decontamination and transform many former military sites into safe, usable spaces."

Environmentally responsible materials are central to the construction of new homes in Dargavel Village. By using timber and recycled materials, the development mitigates its environmental impact and supports conscientious resource management, creating a greener community from the outset.

Energy efficiency is also prioritised. Homes in Dargavel Village incorporate insulation, double glazing, and solar panels to curb energy consumption and foster self-sufficiency. This dedication to energy-saving solutions ensures a more responsible living environment for residents.
Water conservation is another key aspect of the project. Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and water-wise landscaping practices have been implemented throughout the development to minimise water usage and safeguard this essential resource.

Transportation options in Dargavel Village are designed to promote eco-conscious choices. The development's proximity to public transportation encourages residents to choose greener transit options. Pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets within the village also support active lifestyles, contributing to a more environmentally friendly community.

Aerial view of Dargavel development (courtesy of Cass Associates)

Finally, green spaces are woven into the fabric of Dargavel Village. Parks and gardens scattered throughout the development not only improve air quality but also provide residents with areas to unwind and appreciate the outdoors. These green spaces also play a crucial role in supporting local ecosystems, underlining the project's commitment to ecological responsibility

The development offers many benefits, such as reduced environmental impact, improved quality of life, and economic growth. By embracing sustainable technologies and practices, Dargavel Village aims to create a more sustainable community that will help future generations.

In addition to these sustainable building techniques, Dargavel Village is committed to fostering a sense of community and well-being among its residents. Public spaces have already been included to encourage social interaction, and a range of amenities, such as schools and healthcare facilities are also now available within the development. This comprehensive approach to community planning ensures that residents have access to essential services, promoting a high quality of life.

Whilst the overall vision for Dargavel Village is to be commended, local resident Michelle Stevenson said, “growing up in Gallowhill, the thought of having a bigger, new build property was a no-brainer.” Michelle said that there are various issues with drainage and other new build snagging. Michelle was also unaware of plans for the country park as well as the currently available greenspace. “The once quiet community is now no more due to the sheer volume of new houses being built.”

Dargavel housing - Stuart Patterson

Scott Cadzow, his partner and their three young children moved only months ago from Lanark to Dargavel because of their growing family. Scott said “We like the community. We like that it is built up with the shops and is friendly.” Scott and his partner were also unaware of the plans for the Country Park and the current Craigton Park.

On being asked about it being a former brownfield site Scott said “They have done a really decent job of the repurposing. “He expressed that he liked the backdrop of the former Royal Ordnance Factory as it brought history to the village.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, the constituency that Dargavel is part of, was so favourable towards the redevelopment that he and his family live there.

Dargavel housing - Stuart Patterson

The Dargavel Village project proves that brownfield sites like the former Royal Ordnance Factory can be successfully transformed into thriving communities with careful planning and a commitment to sustainability.

As this ambitious project unfolds, it serves as a beacon of hope and a blueprint for future sustainable developments worldwide. The project has already inspired a positive change in the way brownfield sites are perceived and utilised, paving the way for more sustainable urban growth in the years to come.

Dargavel housing - Stuart Patterson


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