NEWS of the planned demolition and redevelopment of Cumbernauld town centre has drawn much debate and attention. For some, the plans are welcome news – but for others, they represent a loss of valuable cultural heritage.

Historian of architecture Barnabas Calder is one of the latter voices. He believes, with the right attention and care, Cumbernauld’s town centre could be on-par with that of London’s “well maintained and widely loved” Barbican Estate.

He said: "Cumbernauld’s town centre has been consistently hacked around and neglected, but the right restoration would firstly save an enormous amount of embodied carbon relative to demolition and replacement, and secondly give back to Cumbernauld its position as a town of international interest and importance.

“Demolition will be bitterly regretted within the decade."

READ MORE: Cumbernauld town centre to be flattened and replaced

Cumbernauld is one of 27 new towns in the UK, with five of these being located in Scotland. New towns refer to towns built in the UK post Second World War. They were created to offer “a new way of living to hundreds of thousands of people”, through the provision of “good housing, new jobs and opportunities for leisure”.

New towns have long been a polarising issue visually and conceptually. While some admire the utopian ideals they were founded on and find beauty in their concrete structures, others critique the top-down approach to planning taken at the time, and find their Brutalist architecture lifeless.

Gair Dunlop, artist and senior lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone, who grew up in Cumbernauld, believes that the issues facing new towns like Cumbernauld today should not be attributed to their architecture.

Instead, he tells us, the issues are more to do with “the collapse of light industry and the hoovering up of subsidy by multinationals”.

On growing up in Cumbernauld, he said: “The sense of the future in the place was really kind of paradoxical and strange. There was a sense of optimism there when I was growing up. The idea of the rough surfaces – it felt very science fiction."

Although he has fond memories of the town centre, he believes that the proposals are the right move.

“Some of the early photographs of it look elegant, but there’s a tiredness to it now," he explained. "Modernity needs an imagination to go with it. And the imagination of a society has changed. Cumbernauld is not beautiful, it’s not able to adapt to the 21st century.

“It does make me feel sad that it's going but I can understand why. I think it's probably too late for the town centre whether you love it or not."

However, others, like PhD student James Barrowman who grew up in Cumbernauld, would like to see the town centre saved.

READ MORE: In defence of Cumbernauld town centre: Why we'll miss it when it's gone

He said: “I’d like to see the development itself restored and held on to as a historical monument, but it's quite unlikely and very controversial.

“There’s a historical significance to it – it has one of the first shopping centres in the world and has very unique architecture. It is visionary high modernism that we should try to learn something from."

However, Barrowman continued, he can understand why some do not share his passion for the centre.

He said: “For my friends and family who still live in Cumbernauld, it's become a symbol for the stagnation and neglect that the town has gone through in general.

“People think if that goes, it will usher in a new era for the town. Personally, I think that’s a little bit misguided."