Glasgow City Council has now approved the beginning of work on a design strategy and traffic reconfiguration at George Square, the city’s civic centre and principal urban space.
A recent public engagement on the use and future use of the square reinforced the results of similar exercises, and found that the people of Glasgow want more greening, trees and flowers; less traffic and parking; good quality and accessible events; a permanently available public space where people can meet, sit, protest and walk through; and a high quality in design – with public engagement in that design.
Today’s approval means that the traffic plan for George Square will be developed as part of the emerging City Centre Transport Strategy, and the statutory process on a new traffic layout to be delivered before the European Championships in June 2020 will begin. The proposed new layout will involve full closure (or pedestrianisation) of the east and west sides, while north and south will be public transport corridors. All parking will be removed, and these changes will be enabled through temporary measures like signage and street furniture.
The design strategy for George Square – to be achieved through the Avenues programme – will begin in late 2020, when the design team is in place. The project scope will include Hanover Street and Miller Street, aiming to create a new pedestrian link from Queen Street Station through George Square down to Argyle Street and the Clyde.
Glasgow’s hosting of major events in 2020 including the UEFA European Championships and COP 26 – and more in the next few years – has led to the phasing of the redevelopment of the square, with construction works likely to begin after the UCI Cycling World Championships in the summer of 2023.
The delivery of the redeveloped George Square will be part of the wider Avenues programme in the city centre, with the design, quality and consistency of both projects are aligned, so the project scope with include the George Street and St Vincent Street Avenues as well as the square.
The estimated cost for the proposed George Square works is between £8million – £10million, with the proposed works at Hanover Street and Miller Street estimated at £2 – £3million. These costs will be met from existing capital budgets, including the Glasgow City Region City Deal.
The works will be procured and governed as part of the Avenue’s ‘Block C’ (covering George Square, George Street, Hanover Street, Hope Street, IFSD West, John Street, Miller Street, St Vincent Place and St Vincent Street) design contract, which is going out to tender in April with a contract appointment expected in October this year.
There will also be a need for a sustainable solution to the interface between George Square and Queen Street Station, to ensure necessary accessibility and servicing requirements with appropriate public transport and active travel facilities and infrastructure. The scope of works for all the work around the square will be established as the design process progresses, with detail to be developed through a further process of intensive analysis and public engagement.
The design process for the redevelopment of the square responds to the global climate emergency in a number of ways, including the introduction of green infrastructure; tackling poor air quality; promoting and prioritising active travel and public transport; using SMART infrastructure to make this city centre neighbourhood resilient and sustainable; and mitigating against the possible impacts of climate change through surface water management.
It is recognised that in all phases of the project that there will be challenges with regards to servicing of various shops, businesses, residential developments, refuse collection facilities, etc. Local access for residents will still be maintained. These issues will be fully considered in due course, and appropriate mitigation measures put in place.
The design process for the square will include further public engagement as options are developed, proactively consulting with vulnerable user groups and other key stakeholders
The delivery of the George Square Area Strategy project will be monitored by a cross-party group which will review the project as it develops.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We can now begin work on the redevelopment of George Square to deliver the changes that the people of Glasgow have told us they want. Throughout this process, we will continue to engage with everyone with a stake in the square to create a civic space we can all enjoy and be proud of.”
Images of how George Square may look after the first phase of redevelopment are available on request.