community project Archives - Urban Union Ltd

Pennywell to be Inspired by New Community Art

Together with the City of Edinburgh Council, award winning regeneration specialist Urban Union has appointed North Edinburgh Arts to deliver an engaging Art Strategy as part of its work at the Pennywell Living development in Edinburgh.

The strategy has community engagement at its core and will deliver three distinct outcomes: inspiring hoarding panels, a Creative Community Chest and new Pennywell Heritage/Art Trail.

Lead Artist Ross Macrae will kick start the strategy alongside a series of invited guests, who will create 10 engaging panels incorporating wayfinding and local icons to the existing hoarding around the Pennywell development. A key strand of the strategy is community engagement and local young people will have the opportunity to attend masterclass sessions with Ross and the guest artists where they will demonstrate skills and techniques in spray painting and other mediums. The workshops and artwork creation have been running since April and are expected to continue into August.

With £3,000 available through the Creative Community Chest for micro projects across the North Edinburgh Arts membership area, local charities and constituted groups will also be able to apply for one of 10 grants of up to £300 which will be used to deliver creative content for the local community. The Creative Community Chest will be managed by the One City Trust and open over the summer.

The final element will be the introduction of a heritage/art trail for Pennywell. Appointed through an open call, the selected artist will create and deliver six permanent artworks in and around the Pennywell area. With the aim of enhancing local pride, the artworks will become meeting points, way finders, conversation starters and points of connection. Local residents are invited to get involved in the process which will commence in September 2022 and over the following 12 months will include 24 engagement activities for all ages, culminating in the installation of the art in August 2023.

Neil McKay, Managing Director, Urban Union, said: “We have been an active member of the local community for the last eight years and we are pleased that our public art strategy for Pennywell is now in place. The regeneration that has already taken place in the area will only be further complemented and enhanced by these plans which will bring wider benefits.

“The key to making these three distinct programmes a success will be the involvement of the local community. The art which will be created needs to reflect the rich social heritage of the area and the character of the communities who live and work in and around the Pennywell area.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with the local community as our Phase 3 works progress and to seeing their ideas come to life through the unique opportunity that our Arts Strategy will provide.”

Councillor Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “There is going to be so much to enjoy in North Edinburgh this summer. This programme is a real celebration of local people and all of the regeneration which has taken place.

“We’ve supported significant investment in Pennywell and Muirhouse, with new green spaces and a civic heart, brilliant sport and culture on the doorstep and plans for new community hub – plus of course hundreds of much needed, quality, affordable and social homes. It’s one of our 20 minute neighbourhood projects and you really can see the area flourishing.

“What’s been so special throughout this redevelopment is that residents have been really involved, with projects empowering people to reconnect with their area and initiatives to welcome new neighbours in. North Edinburgh Arts has been central to this and will now help us to bring permanent artworks to the area, which local people will also shape. We can’t wait to see the entries.”

Kate Wimpress, Director, North Edinburgh Arts, said: “North Edinburgh Arts has worked with Urban Union over the last eight years bringing creativity and community to each stage of the development. This has ranged from one off craft workshops, and arts activities for young people, to the development of temporary play spaces, and the permanent, much loved, Butterfly Garden on Pennywell Road. With support from Urban Union and the City of Edinburgh Council this current set of projects allow us to tap into local interests, expertise and enthusiasm once again and we look forward to sharing the results and the pride of our place with local residents, neighbours and visitors alike.”

Urban Union is developing 134 new homes and apartments as part of Phase 3 works at Pennywell Living and has been working in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council since 2014 to regenerate Pennywell, creating a vibrant residential area.

The extensive development is the result of a major investment of £42 million by The City of Edinburgh Council and includes £7.9 million grant funding from the Scottish Government. The project is part of the wider Council led regeneration of Pennywell and Muirhouse which has seen over £100 million invested in new homes, infrastructure, retail and community facilities.

To find out more about any of the initiatives, please contact


New Tour to Shine Spotlight on Laurieston and Gorbals’ Rich History

A group of people with experience of homelessness will be leading a new walking tour which celebrates the rich history of Glasgow’s Laurieston and Gorbals area.

We have partnered with Invisible Cities – a social enterprise that trains people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides – providing funding to train the group and develop the tour before the proposed launch in early 2021.

Up to eight people living across Glasgow are to be given the opportunity to undertake training with Invisible Cities to help with confidence building, public speaking and customer service skills ahead of the new tour launching.

In addition to its partnership with Invisible Cities, we are also donating £1,500 to support homeless charities across Glasgow and Edinburgh in lieu of our annual staff Christmas party.

Turning Point Scotland and Crisis will each receive a donation to help address homelessness through a number of their projects in December and beyond.

Neil McKay, Managing Director of Urban Union:

“Invisible Cities not only raises awareness of homelessness, its work also helps to change perceptions and break down the stigma that exists around it. Through their tours they help to bring the history of the cities in which they operate to life, with their guides providing insights you won’t find in guidebooks.

“Our new partnership aims to celebrate the Gorbals and Laurieston area which is home to our first development, Laurieston Living. We hope, when it is safe to do so, that the local community, other Glaswegians and visitors to our city will enjoy taking part in these tours.

“Our focus at Urban Union is to not only to build new homes, but to create strong relationships and support the communities in which our developments are based.  We are pleased to be able to work with organisations like Invisible Cities as well as support Crisis and Turning Point, who carry out brilliant work supporting the displaced and vulnerable across Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“We hope our donations will allow them to continue to provide crucial and important services through what are difficult times for many over Christmas.”

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible Cities:

“Our partnership with Urban Union has allowed us to provide up to eight new training places and, once the initial part has been completed, participants will either undertake further training to become an official guide on the new tour or will receive support to pursue the career paths they have chosen. So not only will this partnership help to shine a light on this particular area of Glasgow, it will provide training and employment opportunities for people living locally.”

Crisis’ Edinburgh Skylight centre provides expert support and advice to homeless people to help them leave homelessness behind for good. How Crisis helps someone depends on their individual needs and situation, so it could be that they help someone to find a home and settle in, work together to help them gain new skills and find a job, or improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Speaking of the donation, Kirsty Potter, Fundraising Manager from Crisis in Scotland:

“We are very grateful for this generous donation from Urban Union which will make a real difference to people in Scotland without a home this Christmas. It will help bring comfort and dignity to people being supported in hotels, BnBs and other forms of temporary accommodation this Christmas. Everyone deserves a home, and donations like this will help people in incredibly challenging situations access the support they need to end their homelessness for good.”

We are also making a donation to Turning Point Scotland which provides support for people who are dealing with mental health conditions, learning disabilities or are homeless. The charity has led the way in its introduction of the Housing First approach to homelessness in Scotland – by granting secure accommodation as a first step in addressing the issues that led to the situation, rather than the last and being given as proof of recovery.