Column: Build communities, not just more houses!

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly

Our columnist Helen Bach says Billy Connolly’s recent documentary demonstrated that creating communities is just as important as building huge new housing estates...

Having watched both parts of ‘Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland’, I can assure The Big Yin that it didn’t depress me in the slightest.

On the contrary, he was inspirational, funny, honest, witty, intelligent, multi-talented, multi-layered and insightful.

His perceptiveness undiminished, he reminisced about his Glasgow childhood, revealing points which still have resonance today.

He discussed the importance of libraries, particularly to working class kids, and said: “The library is the key, all the knowledge in the world is there.

“Books are your ticket to the whole world; a free ticket to the entire earth.”

He also discussed being relocated to the new housing estate at Drumchapel, along with tens of thousands of other Glaswegians.

Of this he observed: “Drumchapel had indoor plumbing, problem was we had nothing else - no amenities.

“It was a crime to move thousands of people to a housing estate with no cinemas, no theatres, no cafés, no shops, no churches, no schools.

“If a place has none of those things a dullness descends, a kind of anger develops, and if you have no way of articulating that anger you just lash out.”

How often do we hear about yet another planning application for hundreds, even thousands of homes? And how often are shops, community centres, cafés, schools, nurseries, medical facilities or churches built simultaneously to accompany those houses?

Priors Hall Park is to finally get its own shop - a Sainsbury’s Local - many years after its first residents moved in.

Why can’t all councils make it a condition that if developers build more houses, they have to ensure that the infrastructure and facilities are first in place?

It’s cruel to move people in without decent community facilities necessary for a sane life.