Tower plan turns Glasgow into skyscraper city

Going up: The Ard will transform the Glasgow skyline

Glasgow’s slow transformation into ‘skyscraper city’ has moved a step forward with plans for a 36-storey block alongside the M8.

Plans have been submitted for two buildings known as The Ard which would house student accommodation on the site of a former tax office, Portcullis House.

At 114 metre tall it would be second only in height to the 127m tower at the Glasgow Science Centre. A 20-storey build-to-rent tower has just been completed alongside the Kingston Bridge by Graham and funded by Platform’s joint venture partnership with Northwood Investors.

Watkin Jones, the developer of The Ard, says the main tower would contain 784 beds. A ten-floor building would have commercial space and a new office for the charity Glasgow Social Enterprise Network.

Alongside it will be a double height flexible commercial space facing Charing Cross station, which is likely to be used for a café, workspace or similar.

Watkin Jones said the development would help tackle the “chronic undersupply” of student accommodation in the city. The number of full-time students in the city’s five higher education Institutions is expected to rise from more than 75,000 in 2021/22 to more than 96,000 in 2026/27.

View from the M8, the Ard will be new landmark for Glasgow

The redevelopment of the site will also form part of an overall renewal of the west end of the city centre which has suffered from the departure of retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Watts department store, and the destruction of the Glasgow School of Art.

A sky lounge on the top floor of the taller building will provide a viewing deck for far reaching views of the surrounding cityscape. This will be available for institutional, civic and business events.

The scheme has been designed by Hawkins Brown, which was involved in the regeneration of Custom House Quay and Carlton Place for Glasgow City Council. 

Iain Smith, planning director at Watkin Jones, said: “The Ard will regenerate a brownfield site bringing vitality to this part of the city, providing high-quality and much-needed student homes, in addition to a greatly increased public realm.

“It will help to repopulate the city centre and benefit local businesses as part of an overall renewal of the west end.”

Portcullis House was built for the former Glasgow Corporation in the 1970s and later became the offices of HMRC.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “The student age population in Glasgow is increasing, and the city’s three largest institutions are all targeting continued, significant growth in their latest strategic plans.

“Delivering high-quality student homes will address this increasing demand and will also serve to retain skilled young people in the city as well as regenerating the city centre, which is a key aspiration of the city council.”

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