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Glasgow: A smart canal is at the centre of our regeneration

glasgow smart canal dusk
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Mitigating the Clyde’s flood risk will open new areas up for development.

  • Project: Smart Canal
  • Objectives: Provide early warning of wet weather before moving excess rainfall from residential and business areas into stretches of the Forth and Clyde Canal
  • Timescale: 2018 onwards
  • Cost to authority: £17m (capital funding from Glasgow City Region City Deal, European Regional Development Fund via the Green Infrastructure Fund and Scotland’s 8th City, the Smart City – created in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water)
  • Outcomes: Mitigate flood risk and unlock potential for regeneration

With £1.13bn earmarked for infrastructure projects, funding for innovation programmes and employment interventions supporting people back into work, the Glasgow City Region city deal will ensure all our residents share the benefits of the significant economic growth due to take place over the next 20 years.

A joint venture between the Scottish government, UK government and eight local authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, the City Deal is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Twenty-one city deal infrastructure projects across the region for new roads, bridges, remediation and public realm works are visibly transforming our social and physical landscape. As well as helping to unlock vacant sites in key locations, some which have lain unused for many years, they are also opening opportunities for new housing, retail and commercial development.

Three innovation projects, supported by over £18m of funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, are boosting small and medium-sized business growth and enhancing the life sciences sector.

Notably, the city deal is also delivering several ground-breaking infrastructure projects. These include Europe’s first ‘smart canal’, and Sighthill, one of the UK’s largest urban regeneration projects outside of London. Both form part of the overall Canal and North Gateway project, with investment of £83.6m, which will fund the reconnection of the whole area with the city centre and open the north of the city for growth.

The smart canal is a truly innovative scheme which will address historic flood management issues and unlock thousands of hectares of unused land for new housing and developments. Using sensor and predictive weather technology to provide early warnings of wet weather, the scheme moves excess rainfall from residential and business areas into stretches of the Forth and Clyde Canal.

This £17m project, created through a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water, mitigates flood risk by creating extra capacity equivalent to 22 Olympic swimming pools. This also enables massive regeneration in an area of Glasgow previously unfit for development.

Glasgow first opening road bridge

Advance warning of heavy rainfall will automatically trigger a lowering of the canal water level to create capacity for surface water run-off. The pioneering digital surface water drainage system will unlock 110ha across the north of the city for investment, regeneration and development, paving the way for more than 3,000 new homes.

Using smart technology to change how we use this 250-year-old heritage asset means the Forth and Clyde Canal continues to work for the community many years after it was built.


  • Project: Sighthill transformational regeneration area
  • Objectives: Regeneration of a Glasgow community through the remediation of a 50 hectare site immediately to the north of Glasgow city centre, with 1,000 new mixedtenure homes, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the M8 motorway, a new road bridge connecting the area to communities in North Glasgow, reconfiguration of Sighthill Park, creation of new retail and business spaces, and the building of a new community schools campus.
  • Timescale: 2015-27
  • Cost to authority: £250m project funded by Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Region City Deal, Glasgow Housing Association and the Scottish government
  • Outcomes: 141 homes now complete, land remediated with next phase of housebuilding to begin shortly, redesigned Sighthill Park to act as a visitor attraction given its proximity to the city centre, and new community schools campus expected to open late 2019

In a neighbouring development at Sighthill, City Deal investment will help to reconnect an area of 50ha to the nearby city centre, and open the north of the city for growth. Extensive remediation has addressed historic land contamination, a result of the area’s industrial past, and work on the next phase of new homes will begin in a few months.

By the end of this summer, a new parkland and visitor destination will be created on the site. Work will start soon on an iconic pedestrian and cycle bridge over the M8 motorway, reconnecting Sighthill to the city centre.

Six deal projects and five other subprojects are complete and substantial progress has been made on many others. For residents, the investment is tangible with new roads, bridges, remediation and public realm works visibly transforming the landscape and long-vacant sites coming to life.

MediCity Scotland in North Lanarkshire is a dedicated medical technology incubation facility which revitalised 11,000 sq ft of unused commercial floor space. So far companies there have raised £3.8m of private investment and launched 12 healthcare and medical technology products.

Tontine in Glasgow’s Merchant City is supporting new small and medium-sized start-ups, with 18 companies based on site, more than 230 new jobs generated to date and a number of successes in terms of companies outgrowing the space and moving into larger premises, freeing up space for further new starts.

Clyde Arc

Meanwhile the Imaging Centre of Excellence, led by University of Glasgow, is translating science into economic and patient benefit, with three fully operational scanners now on site, including a 7 tesla MRI, the first of its kind fully integrated within a UK clinical sites. More than 1,500 CT and MRI clinical scans have been completed there to date.

The city deal is set to generate thousands of new jobs, through construction works under way and from our three employability projects which are supported by £24.6m funding from the Department of Work & Pensions and member authorities.

Local companies are benefitting from business support initiatives and contract opportunities worth £22m, while infrastructure projects to improve connectivity and land remediation are attracting investment.

More than 8,000 young people have been supported into work through Youth Gateway, and our Working Matters pilot has helped thousands of Glasgow City Region residents in receipt of health-related benefits to begin the journey into long-term employment.

Long-term, the city deal will see £3bn of private sector investment over 20 years. Local businesses have benefitted, with over £260m of funding agreed so far for spending on infrastructure works and further contract opportunities in the pipeline.

Our gross value added is growing faster than most comparative UK city regions, and this year will see several exciting and iconic city deal projects move forward at pace. These include the first road bridge over the Clyde that can open to river traffic, and a new berthing facility and visitor centre at Greenock, boosting tourism and enticing £26m in annual visitor spending to the economy.

Work will also begin on Renfrewshire’s Glasgow Airport Investment Area project, creating the infrastructure and environmental improvements underpinning the development of a 60ha investment area. The success of city deal to date has been significant. And while there will be challenges ahead, we are confident we will continue to do even better.

Kevin Rush, director of regional economic growth, Glasgow City Region

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