A £350,000 plan to ensure the People’s Palace remains open has been approved by Glasgow City Council’s city administration committee. Meanwhile a heritage strategy is to be developed for the council’s historic buildings.
Fire escape routes from the People’s Palace are affected by structural issues at the adjoining Winter Gardens glasshouse.
A feasibility and costing exercise has found that a series of proposed adaptations will ensure the much-loved social history museum meets fire safety standards and can remain open.
The Winter Gardens are due to close on 1 January 2019 after a report from a consultant engineer highlighted health and safety concerns with the structure.
It is likely that the People’s Palace will shut while the necessary permissions are gained and adaptations are completed. It is estimated the work will take eight to 12 weeks.
The proposal placed before the committee also indicated that the situation is an opportunity for a ‘complete review of the purpose and function of both buildings’, but also all of the city’s other remaining, historic glasshouse structures. A feasibility study will look to identify a sustainable future for these buildings that will protect the long-term investment that is required for them.
Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “There was strong, emotional reaction to the possible closure of the People’s Palace, which shows exactly what it means to the people of Glasgow. In the circumstances it is right that we have pursued a plan that will allow it to remain open independently of the Winter Gardens.
“The Winter Gardens is also a much-loved part of the city’s heritage, but given its ornate and detailed design it will always require a substantial and expensive programme of repairs. At this point it is also right that we take stock and look for sustainable options for both the Winter Gardens and the People’s Palace.
“This has to be part of a wider look at all our glasshouses and other built heritage. It is not enough to keep pouring money into our historic buildings and hoping for a different outcome, both physically and financially.
“We need to think creatively about how we use our built heritage so that the architecture that everyone in the city enjoys does have a sustainable future. This will be no easy task, but developing a heritage strategy will help us to determine what we need to do to protect these buildings for generations to come.”
The Winter Gardens structure is in need of repairs and the sealant used to secure thousands of windows in the glasshouse has reached the end of its life cycle and requires wholesale replacement.
After a pane of glass fell into the public area of the building in 2016, protective netting was installed around the glasshouse to prevent further incident at a cost £270,000. Since 2016 the gardens have had to be closed during periods of high winds or heavy snow. The current repair bill is estimated to be £5million to £7.5million.