Edinburgh and Glasgow '˜will merge within decades', says academic

EDINBURGH and Glasgow will eventually merge together to form one mega city, a leading academic has claimed.

Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 1:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 1:38 pm
Professor Roy Thompson is confident Glasgow and Edinburgh will one day merge together. Picture: TSPL

Professor Roy Thompson of Edinburgh University has said he expects Scotland’s two largest cities to amalgamate within the next few decades.

The professor conducted an analysis using modern satelite imagery and came to the conclusion that the gaps between Edinburgh and Glasgow are steadily shrinking.

Although an exact date for when this will happen has yet to be determined, Professor Thompson reckons it is inevitable and could happen within the next 30-50 years.

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His work is based on a prediction concocted in the 1920s by legendary urban planner Sir Patrick Geddes.

Geddes envisaged a contiguous Central Belt called ‘Clydeforth’ that would see Edinburgh and Glasgow eventually merge together to form one city.

Professor Thompson said: “That amalgamation and transformation didn’t happen in Geddes’ lifetime. But I feel with the current round of urban sprawl it will soon be upon us.

“I’ve been looking at satellite data to see how large the urban and suburban areas now are. I was astonished by how good a prediction Geddes made a long time ago.

“If you look at his sketch map of what urbanisation would look like it seems to be absolutely spot-on.

“Glasgow was the second city of the Empire and was growing tremendously. He made his prediction just as that came to an end so it never happened in his lifetime.

“But it looks to me that it’s very close. There are all these extra villages now that never used to be there — and they’re all joining up.”

Some villages across the Central Belt have expanded enormously in recent years, with places such as Winchburgh currently witnessing major new residential developments springing up.

Professor Thompson continued: “I’ve walked hundreds of miles through the Lothians and observed how much is changing every time I go back. That got me interested in Geddes’ prediction from back in the 1920s that Glasgow and Edinburgh would coalesce.

“One of the walks I lead is along the River Almond, which runs through Livingston, Kirkliston and Winchburgh, and you can see how they have begun to come together.

“The speed at which this is going in what I’m trying to calculate.”

One man who hopes Geddes’ vision does not become a reality, however, is MSP Graham Simpson. The Tory housing spokesman said: “The planning system needs to deliver more homes and new towns but the last thing we’d want is a massive urban sprawl stretching 50 miles.

“There is already pressure from some developers to eat into greenbelt along the M8. We need to realise that green spaces are vital to people’s wellbeing.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government have insisted that there were “no plans” for the two cities to fuse together.

“Edinburgh and Glasgow are great cities in their own right, and through our city region deals we are working with all our cities to unlock investment and stimulate sustainable growth.”