IT is an area that was recognised for decades as having the lowest life expectancy in the UK, and at one point in the whole of western Europe.
In 2004, the average man living in Shettleston in Glasgow’s east end could expect to live until 63, comparable with Iraq and some countries in the Third World.
By 2010, there were signs the area was beginning to shake off the sick man of Europe tag as life expectancy reached 71, still the lowest on the UK but on a par with the Glasgow average.
But city planners are now hoping the area’s unfavourable health record will become nothing more than a footnote in history as a regeneration strategy turns its attentions to the east end.
The hope is that areas of the east end such as Shettleston could emulate Dennistoun, which was named eighth coolest neighbourhood in the world by Time Out magazine – and attract a wider residential mix.
The east of the city saw major investment ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games with the creation of the £113million Emirates Arena and the athletes village in Dalmarnock, which provided much needed housing for the area as well as a new primary school for the area.
Michael Ward, a principal planning officer at Glasgow City Council, says the inner east Strategic Development Framework (SDF) aims to pick up on on this progress at a more localised level.
Encouraging developments that attract more public amenities is seen as key to encouraging a more diverse population in areas like Shettleston.
He said: “Dennistoun has always been a popular area and our vision is to replicate that across the east end.
“There are opportunities in places like Shettleston and Tollcross which have a very similar built environment to Dennistoun. Likewise there is fairly significant investment planned in Parkhead with the health hub that is planned there.
“We want attractive residential neighbourhoods, functioning town centres where people have access to all the services they need within a 20-minute walk – a vibrant, well connected, green environment for everyone.
“One of the things we have always been aware of is the amount of vacant, derelict land which doesn’t really make you feel as if you are in the safest environment,” added Mr Ward.
“The east end faces different challenges to the other priority areas of the city. There has been a lot of investment over the past 10-15 years through Clyde Gateway and it’s really about trying to build on that momentum at a more local level.”
There are plans to complete the athletes village programme with hundreds more houses and resurrect a £3.5m games legacy project, which closed after the charity behind the venture was put into administration.
The Legacy Hub was opened in October 2015 by Scottish football legend Kenny Dalglish and incorporated health facilities, a nursery and education and training centre.
“We are in discussions with colleagues about how we can re-activate the Legacy Hub,” said Mr Ward.
“The original plan for the athletes village was anything up to 1500 housing units. In the first phase there were 750 so it’s effectively half developed. We are in discussions with developers and would expect that second phase to get underway in the next few years.
“With that we would expect to see more amenities and services for local people.
“It’s not necessarily in our gift to deliver new cafes and shops but what we can do is put in the infrastructure that encourages that development.”
John McKendrick, a Professor of Social Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University says care must be taken that regeneration projects in more deprived areas are not at the expense of existing communities.
He said: “There are so many examples in other cities where gentrification has been at the expense of local people rather than for the benefit of them. Dalmarnock made attempts. Mimicking “Dennistoun is quite a big ask as its quite an established community.
“It’s a worthwhile aspiration but you have to value the people who live there.”
Russell Jones, a public health programme manager who is involved in the SDF, added: “It’s a real challenge to improve the area and encourage more people to move in and maintain the connectiveness and social fabric.
“I think it’s important that local people shape the improvements in their community.”