Glasgow City Council today (23 January) gave its approval to a public consultation on the Blythswood District Regeneration Framework (BLDRF). The consultation will begin on 31 January.
This is the fifth in a series of nine DRFs (for the city centre’s nine districts) that will guide the future development of Glasgow city centre over the next decade. Previously approved DRFs include those for the Sauchiehall & Garnethill and Broomielaw districts, with the St Enoch and Central Districts previously also out to public consultation.
The DRFs for the nine districts are plans for short, medium and long-term actions that will bring economic, environmental and social improvements to the city centre.
The BLDRF’s boundaries are the M8, West Campbell Street, Argyle Street, and Sauchiehall Street, and the draft DRF has been developed by a multi-disciplinary team led by Austin-Smith: Lord and MVRDV, working collaboratively with local residents and businesses, local organisations, developers and other stakeholders, and the consultation period offers the chance for any interested local parties to contribute.
Like each of the other city centre districts, the Blythswood district has some unique characteristics, including a largely retained Georgian grid structure, and important examples of built heritage, such as the former Glasgow High School, the Mitchell Library, St Vincent Street Church and the Willow Team Rooms, with notable new developments the Scottish Power HQ and St Vincent Plaza.
The development of the draft BLDRF led to the emergence of six strategic themes:
- (Y)our Updated Mobility: This theme incorporates proposals to enhance the city centre’s public transport and active travel networks to create a sustainable, walkable city, and will include consideration as part of the City Centre Transport Strategy in the context of the BLDRF objectives and the recommendations of the Connectivity Commission.
- (Y)our Urbanised M8: This investigates issues arising from the form and function of the M8 with a view to identifying ways to maintain the benefits of an urban motorway whilst reducing or mitigating against the negative impacts associated with it. It also explores these issues on national, city, city centre, and local levels.
- (Y)our Great Streets and Spaces: This theme seeks to optimise Glasgow’s street grid and address issues arising from the shortage of quality greenspace and other public spaces within the BLDRF. In particular, it looks to identify broken connections and gaps in the urban form needing to be addressed, as well as opportunities for essential investment in public spaces and the physical environment. It also focuses on connection and re-connection to further develop the BLDRF’s diverse and distinctive character.
- (Y)our Great Buildings: This seeks to ensure that Glasgow’s historic built heritage is protected and that it continues to be recognised as some of the greatest urban architecture in the UK. Consequently, it is imperative that new developments respect this legacy whilst striving to achieve the highest quality in contemporary design.
- (Y)our Vibrant Blythswood: This theme explores ways to address the lack of local neighbourhood amenities which might prevent people from choosing to live within the Blythswood District area. It is therefore important that increased community infrastructure should accompany increased city centre residential development and achieve higher densities of working populations. Not only should the locations of attractions and destinations inform the alignment of key routes across the city centre but the city centre should become more lively, with more night-time economy, more viable amenities, better connections to the existing cultural and creative infrastructure and a more sustainable, walkable and activated district.
- Transforming (Y)our Blythswood: This focuses on the creation of agile policies and shared objectives to attract investment, secure funding and foster collaborative working in the district. Transforming this district cannot be delivered by the council alone; this must be a truly collaborative partnership between all stakeholders. Despite the lack of public ownership, GCC will look to identify and work with partners to develop masterplan strategies as appropriate.
Through this earlier consultation, a rationalised, draft action plan has been produced for consideration as part of the public consultation. Some of the key priorities here – such as the Improved West George Street, which will help to provide connection and environmental enhancements within the BLDRF – as well as supporting similar projects being undertaken elsewhere as part of the City Deal Avenues Programme, already have funding in place.
Other priority projects, such as the Improved Blythswood Square, will rely on the cooperation of external partners to fully develop. The outcome of this latest public consultation may alter the composition and/or timing of the action plan.
The BLDRF will also play its part in responding to the climate emergency by developing sustainable initiatives such as the introduction of green infrastructure, prioritising active travel and public transport, and enabling the re-use of buildings.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The district regeneration frameworks are key to the development of the city centre over the next decade, and to help shape the area in a way that reflects what we all want, it’s important that as many people as possible take part in this consultation on the Blythswood district.”
The consultation – which will reveal which proposed projects for the Blythswood district have most support, and what actions should be prioritised – begins on Friday 31 January, continuing until 20 March. Participation is possible through an online survey, by email or by post.
A summary of the draft Blythswood DRF can be found here: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/
The BLDRF will become Supplementary Planning Guidance once it is approved by the council, providing criteria against which development proposals will be assessed.