Beginning on the north-eastern edge of Dundee the Stobswell district extends all the way north to the Kingsway border of Caird Park and Linlathen. The district has a population of 2,458, of which 81% is of working age (16-64), 31% economically inactive and 22% are full time students. It’s residents are predominantly white(88.8%) with Asian Pakistani (2.73%) and Chinese (2.34%) people also living in the community. Dwellings in single occupation comprise 51.6%. Stobswell’s main shopping areas are Albert Street and Dura Street.
Albert Street occupies an area of 31,663m2 and is located near to Dundee city centre, just a kilometre away. It is a location of choice for independent businesses such as cafes, pubs and model shops. Locals from the area value what they have in Albert Street but are not complacent. They recognise the need for Albert Street to continue to evolve to enable it to thrive.
One of the biggest challenges for Albert Street is its use as a thoroughfare for HGVs and inter-city buses. According to Transport Scotland in a 12-hour count in November 2017 there were 3,657 turning counts, of which 566 were LGVs and HGVs.
There is the potential for things to change. Examples of improvements on busy streets as a consequence of council willingness to act already exist not only here in the UK, but also abroad. One example is the Dunsbuir viaduct separated bike lane in Vancouver, which the local council unanimously approved, following public support to make bike lanes is the new normal.
With the potential for improvement evident, local residents in Stobswell have decided that now is the time to act.
What is the Albert Street Action Group?
The Albert Street Action Group (ASAG) is the new force in Stobswell. “We are fed up waiting for the [Dundee] council to make things better in Albert Street,” ASAG’s convenor, Professor Fionn Stevenson has declared.
ASAG is a grassroots movement which was formed following a highly successful community meeting last April. At the meeting people from the community voiced their continuing concerns and frustrations regarding what they called the “heart of Stobswell’s shopping district”. The meeting also focused on the positives as attendees shared their creative vision for what the future of Albert Street could be.
ASAG wants to work in partnership with the people of Stobswell, community groups, businesses and political representatives in championing the regeneration of Albert Street and foster a community “can-do spirit”.
In an interview with Bylines Scotland, Prof. Stevenson told us how the idea started and shared details of ASAG’s core principles and action plan.
The Albert Street campaign
Although the campaign focusses on improving the economic reality and enticing new shops to Albert Street, residents and business owners alike have voiced environmental, health and safety worries for years. There’s an ongoing frustration with air and noise pollution because of the use of Albert Street as a route to inner city Dundee.
“One of the worst things about walking down Albert Street is the noise and pollution of the huge inter-city buses and out of town lorries that race down it, with no care for the vulnerable pedestrians who would simply like to cross the road to get to another shop – we need these off our high street and onto the ring road where they belong.”
Staying with traffic safety, Professor Stevenson added, “We are fed up with seeing our local high Street treated as second best compared to Broughty Ferry and Perth Road when it comes to funding for improvements and 20 mph zones. If it’s good enough for them, then it should be good enough for us!”
Community’s collective desire
Last April’s meeting also demonstrated that people in Stobswell have great pride in their community and a collective desire to re engineer and regenerate the area from residents and businesses alike. ASAG’s convenor echoes that sentiment. “I love living in Stobswell, and Albert Street is right at the heart of it.
“The range of services and shops on the street is really unique, wonderfully diverse and just a few minute’s walk from my home. This precious place and its people have so much to offer.
“Our new Albert Street Action Group aims to keep this place thriving.”
The group will be having a visioning event 6:30 – 8PM, Thursday 29 June at Morgan Academy to generate a positive set of proposals that they hope will be the catalyst for action.
All are welcome to attend.
This article is based on a press release from the Albert Street Activation Group.