Glasgow’s bid for more city powers takes step forward – NewsEverything Scotland

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Glasgow’s bid for more city powers takes step forward – NewsEverything Scotland
Glasgow’s bid for more city powers takes step forward – NewsEverything Scotland

Council chiefs are seeking more control to be able to repurpose buildings from retail and commercial uses to residential. It is believed this is key to the future health of the city centre.

As previously revealed in The Herald, Glasgow City Council is lobbying for more powers to make it easier and quicker to repurpose buildings. The plan will now be considered by councillors at a meeting next week.

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The council is seeking to continue its advocacy with governments to reach an agreed position on changes taxation and additional powers. An Affordable Housing pilot project is being proposed in collaboration with housing sector partners; ongoing monitoring to allow the regular review of office supply and demand; and a repurposing pilot in the former commercial business district.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow leaders want to develop key areasGlasgow leaders want to develop key areas (Image: Newsquest)

Research found repurposing properties will allow the building of many more homes and the creation of self-sustaining neighbourhoods in the city centre, meeting the challenges of changing demand in retail and commercial space.

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The research – carried out by Ryden – provides the basis for this city centre property refurbishment Action Plan was commissioned by Glasgow City Council in recognition of the major impact that the pandemic had on the city centre, which accelerated existing trends in terms of online shopping and the growth of hybrid working, with a subsequent effect on the demand for retail, leisure and office property space.

It is estimated that around 20 per cent, around 3.5million square feet, of commercial space in the city centre requires to be refurbished, with another 20% either continuing as lower-value office space or having the potential to be refurbished.

Councillor Angus Millar, Convener for City Centre Recovery at Glasgow City Council, said: “Getting the right mix of different activities – from retail and hospitality to culture and residential – will be central to revitalising our city centre.  For Glasgow, that means finding ways to repurpose vacant property – both heritage assets and newer buildings – and working proactively to find solutions and secure positive development for vacant sites. Our Property Repurposing Action Plan – informed by extensive research – sets out how we will work with partners within our existing powers to bring more property and sites into positive, sustainable use.

“Crucially, it also commits the council to advocating for new powers from national government, be it around compulsory sales orders or other tax and regulatory measures, to deal with vacant property and incentivise conversion. We need a constructive dialogue with both Scottish and UK Governments about how our cities can be properly empowered to tackle urban blight and revitalise city centres, and Glasgow is looking to be at the forefront of that push.”

HeraldScotland: Empty properties could be repurposedEmpty properties could be repurposed (Image: Newsquest)

The Action Plan for the 2023/24 recommends the building of new homes at scale; taxation and additional powers; the strategic disposal/reuse of public assets to maximise value and quality of place; affordable housing; accelerating office space in older office / heritage buildings, and increasing demand for high-quality, flexible and fitted out co-working and office spaces.

In terms of residential developments specific area of focus could be south of Sauchiehall Street, connecting Garnethill with Blythswood Square and West George, St Vincent and West Regent Streets down to their junctions with Hope Street. 

It is recommended that government lobbying continues on issues related to the repurposing of vacant properties such as VAT , while nothing is charged on newbuild while conversions are charged 20%.


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