Alternative Names
Cowdon; Coldoun; Cowdoun
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Neilston is a small town of 5,000+ residents with a proud history, of which the Crofthead cotton mill and the Cowden Hall Estate are to the forefront. Industry closures and the town's increasing role as a commuter settlement for Glasgow has led to a loss of its identity during recent decades, a fate shared by many such small towns.

Neilston Development Trust has been mobilising for change in the community since 2006, utilising their unique model of community led-regeneration (and before that as Neilston: Space to Live, since 2004). In 2009, Neilston became Scotland's first Renaissance Town, a community-led programme that empowers local people to lead the regeneration of their place. This process allowed Neilston to develop a 20-year vision for the sustainable regeneration of the town. These proposals are captured in the Neilston Charter, a manifesto for the community.

Cowden Hall is identified within the Charter (Section 9; Pg47) as a latent asset, in terms of heritage and natural environment. In 2010, NDT had the opportunity to take this aspiration further as part of a People and Nature - Learning through Doing community-led action research project supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) . SNH's interest lies in understanding the barriers communities face in accessing the outdoors and the natural environment.

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