Golden Z makeover plan to revive Glasgow
Glasgow’s famous Golden Z will be given a green makeover, with more homes and leisure facilities under plans to breathe new life into the city centre.
The three streets that traditionally form its beating heart – Sauchihall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street – have been scarred with empty shop units, a lack of day-time footfall.
A new report sees a future with less retail and more restaurant, culture and leisure operators, while another suggests empty upper floors of buildings can be repurposed into housing and workspaces.
The plans propose more rooftop bars and accessible gardens, more play space for children and better links for cyclists and pedestrians.
The city centre has been one of the worst in the UK to recover from lockdown, with weekday footfall still at 79% of pre-pandemic levels. Evening and weekend numbers are up by a fifth, according to council data which belies claims that the city’s night-time economy is suffering.
These latest proposals come after Susan Aitken, the council leader, said owners of vacant city centre buildings should repair their properties – or sell up.
Under the proposed revamp, Sauchiehall Street would be positioned as a cultural hub for the city, around the restored Glasgow School of Art and Royal Conservatoire, while a new urban park would be created off Argyle Street at St Enoch Square. Both St Enoch and the Buchanan Galleries are scheduled for redevelopment.
In order to support a new urban community, the council wants to introduce more civic services, such as health, education and childcare, into the central area.
Stuart Patrick, the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said private sector investment will be required.
“We now have a full suite of recommendations for tackling empty buildings, improving the city centre transport system and doubling residential accommodation in the city centre,” he said.
“Perhaps the two biggest challenges will be attracting the funding and building up the expert team that will be needed to deliver the report’s recommendations.”
While the plans foresee a reduction in shopping, retailers could be encouraged to stay open later in order to extend footfall and connect day-time and evening activities.
Angus Millar, the convener for city centre recovery at Glasgow city council, said: “With huge global and structural changes in the retail and office sectors in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic, these traditional shopping streets have been particularly visibly affected by these economic shifts and require a particular ongoing focus.
“The recommendations and actions within the plan for the Golden Z aim to ensure that buildings, sites and spaces in the area are all fully used to contribute to its attractiveness as a place for everyone who uses it to live, work, visit and invest in.”
The report will be considered by councillors later this month. No budget details have been released. thge The plans coincide with plans by two companies to reinstate night-time buses.