The shovels were in the ground, then coronavirus hit Scotland and they were unceremoniously laid down.

Three months later and with lockdown gradually easing, so too work on Scotland’s biggest regeneration project is carefully restarting.

Sighthill, north of the city centre, is being transformed from an enormous 56 hectare derelict site, following the demolition of the old grey and run-down slab tower blocks, into a new community with homes, a school, which has already opened, shops, a public square, park and new connections.

Whereas before, people were hemmed in by the M8 and the main rail line out of Queen Street Station, new bridges over both and new roads and cycle ways will join the new Sighthill with the city centre and surrounding communities. George Square is just a 15 minute walk from the centre of the site.

Site preparations started as far back as 2017, with contaminated land cleaned and capped and the building of some homes started but then work had to be put on pause and dozens of workers on the government furlough scheme.

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Now steel toe-capped boots are returning to the ground and tools and machinery are back in use but not as before.

New safety rules are added to the already strict building industry health and safety protocols to ensure no-one with coronavirus symptoms enters the site and no-one catches it when on site.

A Covid-19 checklist is completed at the vehicle entrance, then a scanner takes workers temperature to check for signs of fever at the site office.

On site, indoors and out, a strict two metre distance rule is in place no matter the job.

The canteen with used to house 120 workers at meal breaks now only houses 20, with no face to face interaction and out on the site the rules continue.

Davie Robertson, Works Manager, said: “Every job is risk assessed before we start. There are a lot of control measures. The way of working has changed.”

Just now Morgan Sindall is completing the ground works, laying foundations for drainage and utilities and preparing for roads and footpaths, landscaping and other works.

When it is complete Sighthill will provide almost 1000 new homes.

The old Sighthill was a colourless concrete housing scheme, grey and drab, with only some allotments providing an oasis of nature.

The new Sighthill will have greenery around the site with 600,000 bulbs being planted, 90,000 square metres of grass seeding and more than 1200 trees planted.

Around the huge site the work is slowly restarting, preparing for the next batch of houses to be built. The full workforce is not back on site and won’t be for some time yet until regulations allow.

Roger Reid, Operations Director for Morgan Sindall, said: “Like the whole of society it is a big challenge. We furloughed the whole team including myself for a while.

“Having the gradual start up and making the changes has allowed us to restart works.”

He said the workforce has been consulted on the measures and someone is not comfortable returning, they can remain on furlough for now.

He added: “Ensuring the workers are happy with the procedures in place has been crucial.”

The building industry is already, more than many others, health and safety conscious.

Mr Reid added: “While the general population hadn’t heard of PPE, it is part of our language an essential part of what we do.”

There are 140 homes already built, by GHA under phase one of the Sighthill plan.

The next phase will see more than 600 for sale and 200 for mid-market rent.

The regeneration project, which was part of the city’s bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, is one of many projects in the north of the city.

It was to have been the athletes village delivering the same transformation as Dalmarnock after the Commonwealth Games.

But, unlike the 2014 Games, winning the bid was not a condition on the regeneration and the council committed to it regardless.

New developments on derelict land meander thought the area like the Forth and Clyde Canal nearby.

Works at Cowlairs Park, Dundas Hill, Hamiltonhill and Ruchill will bring new homes and replace either industrial sites or housing sites that have lain derelict for years.

More than 150 homes had already been completed and tenants moved in by GHA on one part of the site.

Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The restarting of work at Sighthill is symbolic of the return to work at many places across the city.

“While of course every precaution to ensure safe working is in place at Sighthill and other such sites in Glasgow, this is an indicator that we are moving towards an economic and social recovery from the pandemic.

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“The Sighthill project is itself a renewal of a city neighbourhood, one which will reconnect the area to the nearby city centre and surrounding communities, and continue the regeneration of North Glasgow.”

The Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area is being delivered through a partnership between Glasgow City Council, GHA, and the Scottish Government, with additional funding from the City Deal.