Glasgow City Council, after approval from the Scottish Government, has adopted its City Centre Strategic Development Framework (SDF) – the document which will help guide the centre’s development over the next three decades, driving economic renewal and meeting the challenges of climate change.
This SDF now provides Supplementary Guidance to Glasgow’s City Development Plan and will inform all planning and land use regeneration decisions in the centre. The SDF is an accompanying document to the City Centre Strategy, which is currently under revision. The SDF also provides an overarching placemaking policy context for the city centre’s nine District Regeneration Frameworks, which provide more detailed placemaking guidance to guide development at the local District level.
The SDF was developed through public consultation, and at its heart, the document has six key ambitions for the city centre to bring economic, environmental and social benefit to Glasgow:
- Reinforce the city centre’s economic competitiveness;
- Re-populate the city centre and ensure liveable and sustainable neighbourhoods that promote health, wellbeing and social cohesion;
- Reconnect the city centre with surrounding communities and its riverside;
- Reduce traffic dominance and car dependency and create a pedestrian and cycle friendly city centre, with improved public transport, that is healthier and cleaner;
- Green the city centre and make it climate resilient with a network of high-quality public spaces and green-blue infrastructure that caters for a variety of human and climatic needs; and
- Repair, restore and enhance the urban fabric to reconnect streets and reinforce the city centre’s distinctive heritage and character.
The delivery of these ambitions will mean that Glasgow will have a city centre that is vibrant, sustainable, liveable and well-connected, offering ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ that provide all the daily (and night-time) needs of the people who work, live, study and visit there in terms of local services, shops and green space.
The environment of the city centre will be healthier, with its streets and public spaces both more attractive and more resilient to climate change – helping to deliver the national target to be net zero-carbon by 2045. The area will also attract more investment as businesses and developers respond to the increased quality of its spaces and places, so fundamental to the enjoyment of a city centre.
Glasgow City Council looks forward to collaborating with local residents, workers and visitors – as well as government agencies, investors, developers, and businesses – and all who experience the city centre on the delivery of the SDF Action Plan and the future improvement of the city centre.
Some of the key actions proposed in the city centre SDF include measures to: improve the offer of the city centre as a ‘day out destination’ with more leisure opportunities, featuring public spaces (including a new river park) that will complement and support its retail offer; create high quality and vibrant mixed-use business environments that better serve and support a modern workforce; create a simplified, highly integrated ‘green grid’ street network that improves the walking and cycling experience throughout the centre; improve crossings and the environment around the M8; and create a network of high quality public open spaces featuring trees and planting as part of the overall ambition to ‘green the grey’ of the city centre.
Glasgow’s City Centre SDF – the contents of which also respond to ongoing changes in the retail, office, leisure and residential sectors – can be found here and along with the Council’s other adopted SDFs for the River Corridor and Govan/Patrick here
As part of the High Street Area Strategy, City Property and Glasgow City Council have been trialling a Meanwhile Use initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to show that there are innovative ways to bring vacant units into use and to animate the area. Most meanwhile use tenants on the High Street and Saltmarket are from the creative communities, so they bring a distinct offer to the area. For instance, some of the tenants were involved in the “2020 Vision” event held in December. This event saw shopfronts illuminated in 3D designs and helped improve the vibrancy of the area. It is hoped that more events like this will take place, with the local community, artists and businesses working in partnership to rejuvenate the area.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the vast majority of tenants who took part in the initiative are keen to stay within the spaces and transfer to full commercial leases on stepped rental terms. This shows that if we change and reimagine our approach to vacant units, we can create locations that are commercially sustainable whilst help increase demand in the area. In addition, it also enables us to have creative, imaginative individuals at the heart of our communities, which can only help improve the vitality of our neighbourhoods.
Given the success of this trial it will be interesting to see how meantime use might be extended to other areas and how this might be achieved.
Collecting ideas for Cowcaddens, Townhead, Learning Quarter and Merchant City continues.
You can still contribute, still let us know how you think things could be improved. If you live, work or visit these districts fill out either or both the Proposal form or the Pledge forms then send them to [email protected]
All the ideas will be added to all the other community and stakeholder conversations that we have already had. There will also be more community engagement sessions latter in March and April. The idea is to use all the information and ideas that we have collected to create a handbook for each of these districts. These will set out suggestions and ideas which aim to make these districts better places over the next 10 years.
The top three things that people wanted to talk about so far have been streets and spaces, moving around and feeling safe. Are your ideas about one or more of these things or is it something else that you see as an opportunity to make things better.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
The Thriving City story map has been developed as part of the High Street Area Strategy, to offer an opportunity to explore 1500 years of history of the High Street of Glasgow. Like many projects within the strategy, the Thriving City story map intends to bring more visitors to the High Street, with the ambition of improving the look and feel of this historic street, bringing a new lease of life to the area and the local community.
The Thriving City story map is in three main sections: historic images of people, places and events shown on banners, along the High Street; a vennels, wynds and closes heritage trail where you can discover who, what and where people lived throughout the ages and the Community Heritage map (currently being developed), which gives local communities the chance to tell their stories of the High Street.
You can explore the beautifully curated images on the banners, by clicking on the map, which will follow in Spring 2021. Each point on the map aligns with two historic images. By clicking on the images you can discover, the hidden history of the site. On your journey, you will find out about the famous people who lived and worked there, including James Watt and Adam Smith. Events such as the Battle of Havana and the Battle of Bell ‘O’Brae and historic buildings hidden beneath the Victorian architecture. You can explore the heritage of the Old College and the Old Pedagogy.
The Vennels, Wynds and Closes heritage trail directs visitors using a series of historical hand-painted signs which are due to installed in Spring 2021.
The Past Present and Possible project will feed into the Community Heritage map section and will contain the history of the community associated with different locations in the area.
The story map offers a free, fun and exciting way to explore the High Street, as well as providing knowledge on the heritage of the oldest street in Glasgow. You can access the developing story map here.
The Council’s City Deal funded Sauchiehall Street Avenue has recently won the Excellence in Sustainable Infrastructure category at the Landscape Institute Awards 2020.
The City Deal/City Centre Regeneration team at Development and Regeneration Services coordinated the project, which is the pilot scheme for the wider Avenues programme. The Avenues are made up of 17 separate schemes that will not only see the delivery of sustainable infrastructure but also bring economic benefits to the city centre.
By redressing the balance of space for people and vehicles, the Avenues project was able to introduce twenty-six semi-mature trees, a bi-directional cycle track, architectural lighting features and footways wide enough for outside seating for everyone to enjoy.
A key aim of the Sauchiehall Avenue project was to promote active travel (walking and cycling) which will help us tackle climate change, make us healthier – both mentally and physically – and has wide-ranging economic benefits. This uptake in active travel through the scheme has been demonstrated by an approximate 600% increase in cyclists entering the city centre via Sauchiehall Street.
Find out more about the awards finalists here
Find out more about the Sauchiehall Avenues project here
A series of installations from Nich Smith Lighting Design – 2020 Visions – runs from 12 – 20 December 2020.
While closed to the public, Tron Theatre is working on a series of innovative projects, funded through the Scottish Government’s Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund that will present dramatic content in unconventional settings. The first of these, 2020 Visions from Nich Smith Lighting Design is a participatory work that asks what the future holds for our city centre community when high streets are changing, office blocks are emptying, and shops may be closing.
Opening at dusk on Saturday 12 December 2020 Visions asks what the future of our neighbourhoods will be and presents it as a series of scenes in nine sites around the Tron Theatre. Street-level windows have been taken over with installations inspired by the stories and ideas of local people who have contributed to the project online and through social media by sharing their hopes and dreams for the future. Part promenade, part treasure hunt, part collective dream, 2020 Visions invites passers-by, city-dwellers, shoppers and neighbours alike to reflect and imagine a brighter future during the darkest week of the winter.
A core feature of 2020 Visions is to collaborate with emerging artists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Visual artists Sekai Machache, Samuel Temple, and Saoirse Anis joined with the 2020 Visions team of theatre technicians, lighting designers, and set designers in a creative mash-up which has produced curious and playful artworks in response to the question “What does our future hold?” Visions have been reflective, resonant, thought-provoking, and fun.
As the days get shorter and night comes earlier, 2020 Visions has populated empty spaces with light and re-animated the Trongate neighbourhood with hope.
2020 Visions, which is being delivered with support from City Property LLP, will light up nine sites around the Trongate, including the Tron Theatre, from dusk to 9pm daily from 12–20 December.
For more information contact:
Lindsay Mitchell, Head of Marketing & Communications [email protected]
Glasgow City Centre has long been associated with poor air quality. However, steps are being taken to enhance air quality into the city centre. There is already evidence of what can be achieved by limiting car and bus usage in the city centre. For instance, the first two weeks of lockdown in March 2020 led to an estimated 50% drop in levels of nitrogen oxides on Hope Street, which is known as Scotland’s most polluted street.
One key element to lowering air pollution levels is to encourage the switch from car travel to active travel through the provision of attractive public realm and safe cycle infrastructure within the city. Glasgow is working on improving its cycle lane network and works have begun on the biggest cycle infrastructure of this nature in the whole of the UK.
£115M of City Deal funding will support the delivery of 18 new connections between the key entry points to Glasgow City Centre; the new avenues will feature enlarged pavements, new public realm such as benches and feature lighting, segregated cycle lanes, trees and rain gardens, making walking, cycling oo wheeling a safe and attractive choice for all the citizens of Glasgow.
Sauchiehall Street was the first pilot avenue to be completed in 2018, delivering approximately 600 meters of bi-directional segregated cycle infrastructure, and the results have been impressive. According to data collected by Glasgow City Council, there has been an 80% increase in the number of cyclists using the new cycling infrastructure n Sauchiehall Street to enter the city centre. Since its installation, figures for those individuals using the cycle lane to enter the city have increased from 310 in 2018 to 651 in 2020. The figures for those using the cycle network to exit the city is even more staggering – the number of cyclists using the route to leave the city has gone from 56 to 396, which is a rise of 606%.
Figures aside, seeing many families with young children cycling along Sauchiehall Street has really demonstrated the power of delivering safe infrastructure and the impact on behavioural change.
Here is the latest blog in the series that discuss different aspects of the ongoing (Y)our City Centre Regeneration. Here artist Peter McCaughey, Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle introduce the (Y)our Place Map: A City of Portraits – an interactive map that captures a series of portraits of the diverse voices who make up the great city of Glasgow.
Art organisation, WAVEparticle, has made a map of central Glasgow, capturing a series of portraits of the diverse voices which make up this great complicated city we live in. The portrait interviews aim to capture some of the several ‘hats’ each person ‘wears’. It focuses on those working in or living in, one of the four districts that are defined in the City Council’s City Centre Strategy: Cowcaddens, Townhead, the Learning Quarter, and the Merchant City. This Strategy aims to set out a vision and action plan for each of the nine distinct, interconnected Districts that make up the city centre.
Click on the image for the live map (opens in new tab)
We are working with a team of architects, transport engineers, ecologists, planners, urbanists and economists, who are attempting to read and rethink these Districts to inform the plans for their future in a two-year project called the District Regeneration Frameworks or DRF. As a team of artists, we lead on building participation from the people who live and work in these areas and thread their voices, creativity and cultural focus into the overall work. We believe that the people we encounter hold bespoke knowledge and expertise- in their own lives, and often in all sorts of other areas. We record their observations of the patterns and details of the places where they live/work. We work in the tradition of Artist as a cartographer of the personal, social, anecdotal city, charting the psychogeography, as well as noting the dog fouling and parking issues that often dominate people’s first responses to us.
The overall team has been involved in an online survey of these four Districts of Glasgow city centre using a website called Commonplace. To complement this survey we have undertaken a series of in-depth interviews that enable deeper exploration of the issues important to residents, businesses and organisations in these Districts. The aim has been to build a map filled with personal insight, the struggles and achievements of day-to-day life, the big dreams and mundane frustrations, the music, art, and poetry. We pay attention to the things that the people we speak to think work and the things they would change – particularly in the four districts under study but also across the city.
“Most people are quite open minded and are not against change. What they just want to know is if there is some coherency in the plans and if it’s not going to be just another concrete block.”
Tony Munro, Local resident and Chair of Townhead Village Hall
The map is an online resource, (Y)our Place Map: A City Of Portraits, and will grow into a network of hundreds of diverse voices and related artefacts that remind us all of our complex, multi-cultural diversity. The map’s interface has been built by artist Naomi Van Dijck, over a precise google ‘undercoat’, and its surface has been illustrated with over 30 drawings by artist Danielle Banks, that fill the map with recognisable monuments and building facades.
The interviews have been conducted mainly by myself and logged and edited by Lizzy O’Brien, Naomi and myself. The goal has been to get beyond soundbite culture to a more complex understanding of the richness, diversity and ideas of the people who make up Glasgow. We wanted the handmade feeling of the map to complement the sense of a city of individuals, who somehow come together to make communities and a whole city.
“One of the things that’s missing from regeneration are [ethnic] communities. Often regeneration is physical but there are other considerations. There is not a regeneration organisation or group for ethnic minorities”
– Mohammed Razaq, Executive Director, West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
COVID has dictated that many of these interviews have taken place in people’s homes, via Zoom or Microsoft teams, so we have lost out on our preference of speaking to people in the place they are responding to. COVID guidelines have also restricted our preferred unplanned, peripatetic encounter, so we’ve had to work harder to get to the people often neglected in participative processes, and ultimately, we have had to identify ambassadors for these communities and go to them. At this early stage, the map has gaps, geographically and in terms of diversity. This underscores our experience on other projects recently, that the harder to reach have become even harder to reach during COVID, especially given that the use of some of our approaches and customised tools are restricted by current guidance.
“I’m the last shop in Glasgow that fixes small appliances, small shops are disappearing. Big companies produce goods that you throw away when they break. I am 62, when I retire the shop will go.”
– Mr. Avtar Singh, Local businessman, connected to SEMSA, an organisation to bring ethnic minorities together
Nonetheless, the experience is and has been, inspiring, illuminating, and educational, and sometimes frustrating – there are brilliant ideas out there for solutions relating to transport, urban realm, housing, social and cultural challenges but people often feel disempowered to make these changes. Ultimately our goal is to help shape an understanding of the city within these communities, our wider team, and the City Council, and by doing so, change the city for the better.
To us, this is all common-sense. The work is founded in a deep and fundamental belief in the resource the next person we meet represents, be they homeless, asylum seeker or refugee, shopkeeper, a retired worker, unemployed person, company director, street cleaner, student, visitor or long-term resident, and irrespective of their creed, skin colour, employment status, age or mobility. When someone in the marketing department of Glasgow City Council decided on the brand People Make Glasgow they tapped into a fundamental truth, beyond the cliché; people really do make Glasgow and a city full of acknowledged, empowered citizens is a wonderful, vibrant, diverse, innovative creative place- a place of resilience in hard times.
“It’s been a difficult time. Luckily we still have a lot of support from the Chinese community. I cooked food for the NHS during COVID. I am 62, I want to give back to the community, I would join a Cowcaddens community Council.”
Maria Lees, Local businesswoman, owns the Chinatown restaurant
It’s a great privilege to be an in-betweener on such projects and to explore how a type of devolved, integrated networking of knowledge and culture might inform the hard-physical infrastructure of roads and housing, lighting and surface drainage. The esoteric, the lyrical, the pragmatic-the imagined city, the annoying kerb, the derelict and the revamped site, the deep history and event-nature city, sit side by side, dance arm in arm and our perceptions of who we are, and how we are, somehow knitted into the fabric of where we are.
The map is a moveable feast and will grow over the next year. Our thanks to all contributors to date.
Get in touch with the (Y)our City Centre project team if you have an idea or issue you want to discuss to improve these four city centre Districts. And keep contributing thoughts and suggestions on the Commonplace website.
Peter McCaughey is the Lead Artist and Director of WAVEparticle.
As Lead Artist of WAVEparticle Peter has curated and delivered artwork for temporary installations and permanent commissions, as well as leading on community animation, place-making and masterplanning projects across the UK.
Please contact [email protected] for any enquiries.
As announced by the First Minister on 17 November, Glasgow is now in Tier 4, effectively putting the city into lockdown once again. Consequentially, all our lives will be further impacted, with all but essential retail being forced to close. In addition, bars, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, and indoor gyms have also been forced to shut. It is hoped that by intervening now, people will be able to enjoy Christmas with more freedom. However, outdoor gyms, click and collect services, outdoor retail services, takeaways, schools, colleges, and universities will remain open.
Nevertheless, there are still things on offer within the city centre. For instance, there are two walking tours: The City Centre Mural Trail and the Contemporary Art Trail. Both tours could be done socially distanced if anyone wants to get out. Restrictions in Tier 4 still maintain that six individuals, from two households, can still meet up outside. Both walking tours are free to use, with GCC City Centre Regeneration team providing an app and a story map that can be accessed online (please see below for links). The app and story map provides text and audio on each piece of art, outlining when it was created, who by, what amenities are close by etc. Both walks offer a fun way to explore Glasgow City Centre, with pieces of art located within each city centre district.
In addition, the cycle lane infrastructure within the city centre has improved, with cycle lanes now accessible along Clyde Street, down to the Riverside Museum and the cycle lanes established on Sauchiehall Street as part of the Avenues project.
To access the City Centre Mural Trail app and audio map, go to:
The Contemporary Art Trail app and audio map can be accessed at:
Here is the fifth blog in a series that discuss different aspects of (Y)our City Centre Regeneration.
The end of the 20th century saw declining trends in high street retail habits and city centre population density. More recently, the number of people looking to live within city centres is on the rise; however, to encourage continued growth there is a need for spaces to be reshaped and reinvigorated to breathe new life into them and make them fit for the future. The District Regeneration Frameworks (DRF) are an opportunity to re-imagine what our city looks like, what it offers people, shape how we can move around it, and ensure it responds to the climate emergency and the challenges COVID-19 has presented.
Glasgow is already a thriving, vital city, that wants to drive more improvements, promoting itself as an attractive, sustainable, economically viable, vibrant and liveable city. A city where more people have more opportunities and a greater desire to gather, socialise, live, shop and work. These opportunities encourage investment, economic growth and increased residential expansion. This can be facilitated by adopting a ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ approach, whereby access to day-to-day public amenities and community facilities can be accessed by a 20-minute, or half-mile, walk; with high quality, reliable and affordable mass transit systems providing links to other neighbourhoods. This is a significant departure from the historic ‘zonal’ development pattern of suburban residential schemes and out-of-town shopping centres and retail parks.
As people who engineer and design our built environment, we need to be highly socially aware and emotionally intelligent. We need to recognise that decisions occur in complex political environments where multiple stakeholders, holding different values and conflicting goals, interact and make decisions together. We know that talent diversity and process disruption are the best way to enable progress and success needs to be measured not by traditional methods but by how a citizen experiences a place and our impact on the natural environment.
Nature-based choices and ‘green engineering’ are at the heart of this approach, which in turn helps our city be more climate-resilient. These principles are evident in the work we have done so far on the ‘Avenues’ project. Our collaborative design approach with Glasgow City Council and Urban Movement outlines a fundamental reallocation of space; putting people and experience first, rather than motor vehicles, with existing carriageway space being liberated and re-purposed for the installation of ‘green and blue’ infrastructure and improved pedestrian and cycling provision.
For two years, we have carried out an extensive consultation and engagement programme, with a broad range of stakeholders, to help us gain an understanding of what people want, need and what is possible. This programme has helped us to generate our designs for the city which, in many locations, result in up to 20% of the available public realm being retrofitted to meaningfully incorporate ‘green and blue’ infrastructure in the form of rain gardens and street trees. There are widened uncluttered pavements which are even and level underfoot. There is dedicated cycle infrastructure. There is space to sit, socialise and dwell in an attractive environment that provides direct access to nature. These interventions will go some way to tackle the challenges of climate resilience and the inherent issues of surface water management, air quality, and urban heat island effects, whilst providing biodiversity and improving the general attractiveness of the space.
The Avenues project is considered to be an enabler to achieving many of the aims of the City Centre Strategy and the District Regeneration Frameworks through the re-imagining of a number of key city centre thoroughfares. The Avenues themselves can be regarded as a series of armatures on which to build a wider network of climate resilience, biodiversity, and active travel opportunities throughout each District and beyond; forming the basis of aspirational, attractive, contemporary city living.
We recognise the privileged position and responsibility we have in being able to directly influence the lives of the people who use these places each day and night; whether as space they live in, space they work in, space they socialise in, or just a space they travel through. Through wide-reaching consultation with communities, disability access groups, shoppers, landlords, retailers, educational facilities, public transport operators, and utility companies, we have a deeper understanding of what a design should deliver and how this must vary depending on the location, characteristics and history of each space.
Stephen O’Malley and Scott Manning are from Civic Engineers; a civil, structural and transport engineering practice at the forefront of innovative design, creating inspirational structures and places that have a positive impact on the environment and enable people to lead healthier and happier lives.
Civic Engineers are part of the team working to prepare District Regeneration Frameworks for Cowcaddens, Townhead, the Learning Quarter and the Merchant City. They are also lead consultant on Block A of the Enabling Infrastructure Integrated Public Realm project (EIIPR), colloquially known as the ‘Avenues’.