THE good people of Cambuslang and district sense a very positive mood in the air as the area starts to enjoy the benefits of a regeneration programme, and several new housing developments.

They have seen the earth move for them in so many directions over the past 20 years or so as the demise of the traditional industries of coal and steel left a legacy all too familiar in the West of Scotland, a landscape scarred and contaminated and thousands unemployed.

When the then Scottish Industry Minister, Brian Wilson, MP, launched the Lanarkshire Derelict Land Strategy last year, the area contained one third of all Scotland's derelict land with more than 10,000 acres on 1400 sites, including almost all the former steel sites in the central belt.

In human terms the scale was staggering. In 1978, 23,222 people were employed in Cambuslang and Rutherglen. But by 1993 that figure had fallen to 14, 632.

The 10-year strategy involving Lanarkshire Development Agency, North and South Lanarkshire councils and Scottish Homes aims to double the number of brownfield sites available for investment - targeting 320 core sites - and shifting development in favour of brownfield land.

In a major bid to breathe new life into the acres of desolation, 78 priority sites which offered the best potential for new industrial locations, housing and community facilities, were targeted.

Other key renewal sites involving the LDA and the South Lanarkshire Council include the clearing of a gasworks site in Main Street, Cambuslang, for new housing, Bridge Street (industrial), Clydesmill (business), Newton, Morriston Park, Caledonian Circuit and the former RDL works, all residential.

The partnership is also involved in

revitalising the rundown Farme Cross area of Rutherglen. Here the community has been closely involved in the consultation process. Improvements include new pavements, public benches and a community garden.

The council is also implementing policies of social inclusion to tackle long term unemployment. An area of Cambuslang has been designated a Social Inclusion Partnership area and will receive funds from government.

On the leisure front there is a commitment to improve facilities for the young with a social and advice centre, Universal Connections, opening in the town centre soon. There is a need for a swimming pool and sports centre and a site has been earmarked in Duke's Road.

A new local plan co-ordinating all this activity is under wraps until after the elections for the Scottish Parliament in May. Key factors are urban renewal, developing town and village centres and taking account of the Government's White Paper on Transportation.

Another key player in the district is the Glasgow Development Agency which, along with Scottish Enterprise and the European Union, has invested more than #10m over the past five years reclaiming land at the former Cambuslang Iron and Steel Works on the outskirts of Glasgow and creating the 435-acre Cambuslang Investment Park.

The GDA says the park has attracted major companies from north and south of the border and #22m of private investment ranging from food manufacture to precision tools.

By working together the public and private sectors have turned things round and Cambuslang is emerging from the shadows, casting off the debris of uncertainty, and looking ahead to a brighter, more hopeful future as the programme of regeneration gathers pace.

At Hallside, the site of the former Hallside Steelworks, the contaminated land has been cleared up, trees and shrubs planted, and the first shoots of that new hope are taking root in a woodland project.

Up the hill from the Hallside site, in Drumsagard Village, about 12 of the major housebuilders, are showing their confidence in the area. The creation of Drumsagard Village is fitting since the original village of Drumsagart, meaning the ridge of the priest, was in this area near what was once Drumsagart Castle.

A history of the area recalls that some time after late 1770, stones from the remains of the Great Hall of the castle were ''employed in building the farmhouse at Hallside Farm''. This was in the old barony of Drumsagart, later to become Cambuslang, the long village. In 1999, there are two farms at East and West Hallside, although some of the land has gone for housing.

The revolution, so to speak, has come full circle since the eighteenth-century rural scene of Hallside Farm where Cambuslang found its roots, through the blood, sweat and tears of the Industrial Revolution, its demise, to the present day programme of regeneration of the New Cambuslang.

Much still needs to be done to boost economic development, and a part of the council's local plan for the future is the proposed M74 northern extension from Fullarton Road to the Kingston Bridge. The scheme, the subject of controversy in Glasgow, has received planning consent and is awaiting a decision by Donald Dewar about its status and funding.

There are excellent rail and bus services, good schools, a college and plans for environmental improvements, including a traffic management, in the town centre.

Although there are still areas of land lying derelict, thousand of acres have been developed, industrial sites have shot up and more ompanies are heading for the area and creating jobs.