I often write about the buildings of Glasgow, the state they’re in, the infrastructure, the history, and it’s hard sometimes. Environment affects us, buildings leave their mark, so to see so much of the city neglected and decaying, to kick aside the crisp packets and the beer cans to get to a building that’s about to be pulled down, it’s depressing. I hear that we’re soon to be fined a hundred quid for parking on pavements. Pavements in front of the places where the buildings used to be.

But let me bring you a sign of hope, just a little one. A few weeks ago, I stood and watched as guys in hard hats started ripping the roof off the old Vogue cinema and bingo hall on Balmore Road in Possilpark. The owners of the building had been given a demolition warrant over the Christmas holidays and it looked like they were getting down to the job before anyone could change their mind. I watched as bits of the roof were ripped off, revealing the skeletal structure underneath.

However, it now looks like someone did change their mind. A little while after the demolition work started, the council issued a building preservation order, which means the demolition is temporarily on hold pending a review by Historic Environment Scotland. It effectively means the building is now listed for the next six months and may well be listed for good once HES complete their review.

I said at the time that I thought this was good news, but there were some Herald readers who took me to task. It isn’t exactly a beautiful building, they said. It’s in a terrible state, they said, pull it down and put up something else, they said; big deal. But with respect to those readers and their arguments, I think they may be looking at a building that’s neglected and empty and failing to see past its current condition.

So let me help with that. One of the people who’s been speaking up for the building is the architect Alan Dunlop and to give us all an idea of what the former Vogue could look like, Mr Dunlop has prepared drawings outlining the possibilities. They show the art deco façade still in place but demonstrate different ways in which housing and businesses could also work effectively on the site. It’s an imaginative architectural leap but it’s realistic too and shows what could be done.

Importantly, the drawings also represent the way we should be doing things in Glasgow. There was a possibility – there still is – that the Vogue cinema will disappear, leaving pretty much nothing of architectural significance in that entire part of the city. But Glasgow could, and should, be operating on a presumption that a building stays unless there is a compelling reason for pulling it down and it should be doing that because there are lots of ways in which old buildings can be incorporated into new developments and look great.

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One of the best examples is the red sandstone building on Gorbals Street just up from the Citz which has been incorporated into a new residential development by the Southside Housing Association. Not only has it been beautifully done, it’s helped to preserve one of the few listed buildings left in that part of the city, and that’s absolutely worth doing, particularly in an area that’s suffered more than most. No more demolition. Show some respect.

The same applies in Springburn and Possil. Springburn in particular has lost the vast majority of its built heritage in the last 40 years or so mainly so that you and I can drive a little faster on a motorway (we can laugh at that idea now as we do 3mph at rush hour, or any hour really). The point is that it’s areas of deprivation that have suffered mostly from this kind of stuff and enough is enough really.

I remember folk in another part of the city that’s had its fair share of the problem, Pollokshaws, saying something similar when I was talking to them about the demolition of Sir John Maxwell School, and it had happened in two waves really. In the 1960s, their houses were replaced by high flats, then came the second wave when the high flats were themselves pulled down. We’re also seeing it in parts of Maryhill. We’re seeing it all over the place.

Read more: Vogue Cinema in Glasgow saved by last-minute preservation order

The answer is a kind of reset which places priority on buildings in areas that need them for practical reasons but personal ones too. Architectural merit is important in deciding whether a building should be saved – and there will be some of you who like the old Vogue cinema and some of you who don’t. But as well as architectural merit, we should also consider the place of a building in communities that have already lost so much. What does it say if, one by one, the places around you are turned into piles of stone?

So here’s the thing: I hope Glasgow City Council, and Historic Environment Scotland, and the Scottish Government, and the owners of the Vogue, will take a good look at Mr Dunlop’s drawings and consider what they really mean. Glasgow has some of the finest architecture in the world – I spent the day at the Mitchell library earlier this week and it was wonderful; it’s a splendid building inside and out.

But visit the Mitchell in all its finery and you can’t avoid the flip side: the M8 in all its brutality and that’s the point: the great motorway through the middle of us, the great flat landscapes, the piles of bricks. Much of Glasgow’s recent legacy is one of demolition and destruction. But we don’t have to pull down stuff just because it’s old. You really can incorporate the past and the present. You really can do things differently.