Here is the fourth blog in a series that discusses different aspects of the ongoing (Y)our City Centre District Regeneration Frameworks. Here Dr Mark Robertson, Managing Partner of Ryden considers the property market context for Glasgow post-Covid and post-Brexit.
Ryden is delighted to once again contribute to Austin Smith:Lord’s regeneration frameworks for Glasgow city centre. Our role is to bring property market optimism, with a healthy dose of realism, to plans to continue the successful regeneration of the city centre.
I would argue that Glasgow already has the strongest regeneration story among the UK’s regional cities, including ‘Manctopia’. From the peripheral housing estates inwards to the Transformational Regeneration Areas, Clyde Gateway, the waterfront to date and Clyde Mission and City Deal now and for the future – these are not simply physical projects but have embedded strong socio-economics and increasing environmental benefits. In the core city centre, there is no question that Glasgow’s Central Business – and shopping, eating and drinking – District is post-regeneration and a great success, although it will benefit from more residents and some better spaces between buildings.
The four areas we are now analysing are part of this defined city centre. They have established populations, great civic value and anchor institutions such as the universities and hospital – in total a remarkable 15,000 properties. But, at the outer edges, they can each appear unloved and rather remote from the city centre proper. It is a short walk but can feel like a long way from Buchanan Street to parts of Cowcaddens, Townhead and the inner east end. The wider context matters too, as the fast-improving north (Port Dundas and Sighthill), inner East End and south push inwards – creating the prospects for these Districts to be urban bridges between the core city centre and the wider conurbation.
The property markets we work with have undergone massive change: we are now working post-privatisation (a long time ago, in the 1980s and 90s), post-Global Financial Crisis (2008) and very soon post-Brexit and hopefully post-COVID. This context matters: property markets are ever-more risk-averse and prefer to invest in the best locations for the most valuable occupiers – branded hotels, leisure, shops and office occupiers such as government, banks and utilities. These major occupiers are attracted to Glasgow and bring great investment benefits. But, in the coming market, there are likely to be fewer of them. The city centre must continue to target and win this prime investment where possible, but now also turn to its puzzling long term vacancies, under-used buildings and gap sites and the city centre edges – if it is to continue to grow and improve its offer to the broadest possible mix of residents, businesses and visitors.
As demonstrated by the regeneration programmes noted above, Glasgow has never lost its capacity to tackle market challenges. It still can and does face into areas requiring planning, early funding and market support. The city will need all of these skills and its celebrated optimism to deliver the potential of the four Districts, but now is the time and these are the places to build the platform for that change.
Mark is Managing Partner of Ryden. He has led many notable property consultancy projects in Glasgow, including the city centre strategy, Transformational Regeneration Areas, Clyde Gateway regeneration, International Financial Services District, Clyde Waterfront and, with Austin Smith:Lord, the city centre Districts Regeneration Frameworks. Mark has edited Ryden’s Scottish Property Review for 27 years, is on the policy boards of SPF and SCDI, is a fellow of the RICS and teaches MSc property investment appraisal.