Europe’s First Smart Canal: Transforming North Glasgow

November 12th 2019

A pioneering £17 million project, Europe’s first ever ‘Smart Canal’ is under construction in Glasgow. Working to create a ‘sponge-city’, the project combines the 250-year-old Forth and Clyde Canal and 21st century technology to enable Glasgow to better respond to surface water flooding.

The smart canal is designed in such a way that North Glasgow can absorb, clean and utilise rainfall more effectively, ultimately reducing flood risk and improving overall water quality:

Before periods of heavy rain, canal water will be moved safely through a network of newly created urban spaces – from sustainable urban drainage ponds to granite channels – that absorb and manage water in a controlled way, creating space for surface water run-off. (Scottish Canals)

The project is funded through the Scottish Cities Alliance’s smart cities workstream, Scotland’s 8th City – the Smart City ERDF programme, with additional funding through the Glasgow City Region City Deal and the Green Infrastructure Fund.

Using smart technology, the innovative development will deliver CO2 savings estimated at 500t per year by reducing the amount of wastewater requiring to be pumped and treated.

The introduction of the smart canal has also paved the way for one of Glasgow’s key regeneration projects, unlocking 110 hectares across the north of the city for development. Plans for this transformation include 3,200 new homes across Sighthill, Port Dundas, Hamiltonhill, Ruchill and Cowlairs, as well as the addition of local parks, a central boulevard and improved connections to surrounding areas.

Leading UK construction company, Robertson, are working on the £90million mixed-tenure project in Hamiltonhill to deliver an initial 177 social housing units in the area. The housing will comprise a mix of medium-rise flats, cottage flats and terraced housing. Discussing the work, James Freel, Managing Director at Robertson, said:

This is a significant milestone in a project which will transform the Hamiltonhill area. The first phase of work will deliver a number of high-quality homes. Robertson has a long and proud track record in building social housing developments across Scotland and will use that experience to build a community that everyone in Hamiltonhill can be proud of.

Playing a key role in the creation of the project masterplan, the surrounding community was consulted through focus groups to ensure the regeneration acts in the best interest of locals. These discussions were a key driver in the decision to create additional green space and recreational parks. Neil McKay, Managing Director of Urban Union - who will also construct 24 private sale homes in the area - commented:

We are specialists in regeneration having successfully delivered projects in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. For regeneration projects to be successful, it is essential that the community are part of the journey and have a genuine input into the planning process. We are delighted to be involved in the Hamiltonhill regeneration and we will continue to engage with the community throughout the planning stages and project delivery.

Overall, the introduction of Europe’s first smart canal, transforming Glasgow into a sustainable ‘sponge-city’, is an innovative scheme that will reduce flood risk and greatly improve water management in the north of the city. However, the developmental opportunities that have been unlocked through this project are in turn, working to transform local communities by greatly improving the standard of living for residents and increasing the areas overall potential for investment.

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