PROGRESS achieved through Glasgow’s City Centre Strategy over the past five years has been reported to councillors.
The strategy was developed in response to the economic crash of 2008 and its legacy; changes in the retail and commercial office sectors; and the impact of online retailing. Key identified aims included increased investment, development, footfall and inclusive growth.
Two major proposals arose out of the City Centre Strategy 2014-19, which was delivered by the council and public and private sector partners:
— The creation of a District Regeneration Framework for the city centre’s nine districts, to develop and build on the unique identity, characteristics, opportunities and constraints of each; and
— The £115million Avenues streetscape programme, a major investment in public realm made possible through the allocation of Glasgow City Region City Deal funding. Additional recent funding from Sustrans and Scottish Natural Heritage means that 21 Avenues will be developed in the coming years.
A range of projects has been delivered so far including Sauchiehall Avenue; the City Centre Mural Trail; the High Street Area Strategy; the City Centre Commercial Waste project (which saw over 1,200 unsightly waste bins removed from the area’s streets); the Autism Aware City Centre, City Centre Child Safe, Changing Places and Nite Zone projects; the Next Bike cycle hire scheme; improvement works at Garnethill Park; the Good Food Glasgow street food initiative; the annual Style Mile Christmas Carnival and the Glasgow Loves Christmas Campaign.
A city centre manager has also been appointed by the council to act as a point of contact for businesses and residents.
Other ongoing projects developed include the George Square Conversation to inform its future design; the plan to redevelop High Street Station; the City Centre Lane Strategy; the City Centre Living Strategy; a Contemporary Art Trail; and a Begging Strategy.
Consumer research has shown that key benefits of Glasgow city centre are the range and quality of shops; its atmosphere; and the food and drink options available.
Glasgow Chamber Of Commerce carried out research in mid-2018, which found that the city centre strategy and the officers working on it had developed projects that will deliver better infrastructure and operational improvements; better utilise space; and increased the ability to deal with issues such as cleansing and anti-social behaviour.
Key city centre statistics in recent years include an 11 per cent population and seven per cent employment increase between 2014 and 2017; a 19 per cent increase in local enterprises, a 36 per cent increase in business administration and support services, an 18 per cent increase in professional, scientific and technical services but 30 fewer retail enterprises and 75 fewer local units used for retail, although the city centre continues to perform relatively well in this sector.
There was also an increase in annual tourist visitors of around 210,000 between 2014 and 2018; the night-time economy continues to be successful; and hotel development increased at a rate eight times the UK average between 2014 and 2019. The city centre retains its position as the UK’s biggest shopping destination outside London’s West End.
There has been a steady increase in development in the city centre over the last five years, with notable examples such as the City of Glasgow College campuses, 110 Queen Street, St Vincent Plaza, the Scottish Power HQ, and Douglas House on Waterloo Street. A number of on-site and in-development projects include Barclays in Tradeston, a hotel at the Custom House, the expansion of the St Enoch Centre, 177 Bothwell Street and the Love Loan scheme at the former Parish Halls block at George Street / North Frederick Street.
The development of a city centre strategy for Glasgow between 2020 and 2025 is still in progress, and this will be refined through feedback on resident, business and visitor priorities and in response to local and national strategic objectives. The scale of development activity gives strong grounds for optimism during this period, and the transformation of the city centre’s physical environmental is expected to yield benefits in terms of footfall, dwell-time, visitor activity, and investment.
The strategy is likely to continue to focus on promoting sustainability and resilience alongside inclusive economic growth, maintaining a broad approach that supports all sectors in the city centre.