Glasgow city centre project to come with £648,000 public realm works

PUBLIC realm works worth £648,000 are to be undertaken as part of the Love Loan development at Glasgow’s George Square.

The development, at the former Parish Halls building and neighbouring buildings on the north-east corner of George Square, is part of a mixed use scheme which includes a hotel, build-to-rent apartments and serviced apartments.

Glasgow City Council, which will back the public realm works through its city centre strategy fund, said that the scheme faces challenges in terms of restoring old, listed properties to deliver high-quality, sustainable outcomes and also through the fall in values in retail and leisure units.

Chris Stewart Group (CSG), the developer of the scheme, approached the local authority and other public sector partners to ask for support on some features. The council said that, if not resolved, would put a risk on the delivery of the full scheme.

Following this approach, the council and its partners carried out due diligence checks on the need for grant and established that there was a case for supporting the Love Loan development and some ancillary public realm works around the scheme. It said this will both deliver public benefit and increase connectivity between the University of Strathclyde and the Glasgow City innovation district in the east, and the station to the west.

The council detailed that it will now support the Love Loan scheme by: extending the planned avenue works for George Square around the perimeter of the CSG development; providing grant support of up to £357,770 to CSG for the lane refurbishment; and providing grant support up to a further £150,000 for any temporary works needed to improve the public realm, to support the planned hotel opening in mid-2022, and/or any other works that provide public benefit such as the proposed plaza.

The local authority acknowledged that it is ‘unusual’ in that it would normally undertake public realm directly, however said that the lane is owned by CSG – meaning that if the council adopted it, long-term maintenance costs would be incurred.

Councillor Kenny McLean, city convener for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm, said, “The funding of the public realm and lane refurbishment will not only create an attractive new public space in the city centre, but improve connectivity between key locations such as Queen Street Station, George Square and the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow City Innovation District. The wider development will contribute to the wider strategy for the city centre as we emerge into a period of economic renewal.”

Chris Stewart, CEO of Chris Stewart Group, commented, “Glasgow City Council has shared our vision for Love Loan from the very beginning, believing that this important block in the city centre should be brought back to life for residents to enjoy and to draw new or returning visitors. Our plans for this once derelict area are generating real excitement and as we emerge from a tough time for the economy, Love Loan has the capacity to reignite people’s interest for investing in the city. With good progress being made in the build of the new AC by Marriott at the corner of John Street, we are confident that Love Loan will become a thriving hub of activity.

“GCC’s support will enable us to ensure that the quality and standard of the surrounding development is matched in the public spaces.”