news. AGENDA

£10m plan to make Glasgow streets ahead

Following a £10 million upgrade, Glasgow's Buchanan Street will meet the millennium as one of Europe's premier shopping environments. But will it be at the expense of other areas in the (NY? Words: Stephen Naysmith

Designs for a radical refurbishment of Glasgow's Buchanan Street have been announced after a competition to find a suitably cosmopolitan plan.

The winning design was a joint effort by Glasgow architects Gillespie‘s and the Barcelona-based firm Martorell, Bohigas & Mackay. The first stage, from Sauchiehall Street to West George Street, will be completed in time for the City Of Architecture & Design celebrations in 1999, at a cost of £28 million. The remainder of the street will then be redeveloped in the new millennium, with the total investment amounting to £10 million.

The cost is to be met by the City CounCil, Glasgow Development Agency (GDA), Strathclyde Passenger Transport and the private sector.

The successful bid proposed a design of ’radical simplicity’ a streetscape of pillars, trees, canopies and pavement cafes, With blue and purple lighting creating a 'heather' effect.

Every third pillar Will be extended high above the street, and Will be capable of illumination wrth a

‘There will always be some streets with more expensive rentals but people are

queuing up to get into Glasgow.

We have to make the retail cake bigger.‘

Bill Neish, Glasgow City Centre Association

'lrvrng flaine’ on speCial occasions Sheltering wmdbreaks wrll enc0urage pavement bars and cafes and public benches and bollards vvill be made of stone to co-ordinate wrth the design

Brian Evans, a partner in Gillespie's architects, said they were 'delighted and honoored’ that their design had been chosen 'The aim is to combine modernity With the context of the street nself,’ he said

Perhaps the most unlikely transformation proposed

is the revamping of the area between Queen Street station and the top end of Buchanan Street. Currently a run-down gap-site, this Will become Dundas Square, a new public space.

'The current moving walkways Will be brought up to ground level we wanted to use the allegOry of air travel,’ Evans explained. ’The square will celebrate the city as market place.’

Barcelona offers an example of the way a city can regenerate itself. 'This design is very much in the European tradition,’ Evans claimed.

However there has been critiCism that such regeneration does little to tackle social problems elsewhere in the crty. A spokesman for Glasgow City Council denied the money could be better spent elsewhere.

'The City has a lot of problems, but as well as improvmg people's SOClal conditions, we need to improve opportunity,’ he said.

'Tourism and the retail trade need to be courted,’ he added. 'Glasgow is at a big disadvantage in attracting manufacturing industry, because of the incentives on offer at enterprise zones and new towns. This WI” create iobs,’ he said,

With the development of the Buchanan Galleries, the (It)! hopes to create a Z-shaped aXlS comprising the shopping areas at Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Streeet and Argyle Street.

Glasgow’s shopping centre is the largest in the UK outSide London, and planners and traders hope these developments wrll cement its position, attracting more people from out5ide the City.

Bill Neish, chair of Glasgow City Centre Assooation, said the plans w0uId benefit the whole city ’We want to see fantastic shops in fantastic surr0undings,’ he enthused

But while the three main shopping streets develop, other parts of the city centre appear to be being left behind Union Street Currently has several vacant shop-fronts, including the former Virgin store, which is movmg to a site adjacent to the Buchanan Galleries, and Waterstone's, which has closed and reopened in Sauchiehall Street

Neish denied the improvements were coming at the expense of other city streets ’There Will always be

'Radical simplicity': new square to link with station

some streets wrth more expensive rentals and Subsidiary streets, but people are Queuing up to get into Glasgow.

’We have to make the retail cake bigger At the moment we've still got coaches going down to the Metro Centre in Newcastle, and we want to reverse that flow'

A spokesman for the GDA agreed 'There have always been aspirations to upgrade Buchanan Street, which is seen as the pivotal throughfare, but the intention is not to starve other areas of development or investment’, he insisted

And finally. . . The entrepreneurial spirit - shaken, not stirred

THE ETHICS OF profit-making has come under the microscope following the fatal rail crash in London in which six people died. Has privatisation led to cost-cutting at the expense of safety? Accusations are rife of unsafe tracks, early warning systems that simply aren’t (early, that is indeed they may not even have been switched on) and safety reports not being filed. However, rail operators insist improvements are well ahead of schedule. Perhaps some trains are actually running so far ahead, they are colliding with other trains.

PROFITEERING AND INJURY are not the first things you necessarily link with the business of private-hire taxis. But now, according to Scotland on Sunday, a shadowy Glasgow figure known as ‘The Licensee' has bought up the mini- cab sector, so all manner of Travis Bickles will be asking you politely

not to chuck up in the back seat. The quids in.

Bickle: appearing in a cab near you?

buy-out apparently came after city council employees had been subjected to threats when drivers visited their homes with thin|y~ veiled threats such as: 'You’re going to Glasgow Airport. You’re not coming back’. The Licensee is surely


YET JUST WHEN you thought that sanity had, for once, conquered profit, reality turns and bites you in a very vulnerable place. The Cabinet had initially chosen not to grab the pay rise the system says is rightly theirs, only for compromise to be reached the cash hike will go to charity. All fine and sweet except that head teachers' boss David Hart has described the move as a 'great scam’, what with the new amount affecting Cabinet pay-off and pension day in a distinctly agreeable

CHARLES SAATCHl MUST have a hell of a pension in front of him. Particularly if he continues to pull publicity scams of the kind he has generated at the Royal Academy. Sensation, is a collection of the finest British artists of the late 20th century. Well, the finest in the less than humble opinion of Saatchi, who has lent his scurrilous assemblage of pictorial malevolence to the nation.

For £7 you can experience artworks such as the montage of kids‘ handprints making up the infamous mugshot of Myra Hindley. The patience of even the most liberal- minded art follower will have been stretched to the limit - but is it inconceivable that the egg-throwers were put up by the dealer/collector himself for maximum returns?

DRUGS ARE ALWAYS an honest way to make a buck though, right? It’s a shame then that the US manufacturers of weight-loss treatment Fen-Phen are to lose out following the Food And Drug Administration's ban on the product. Seems too many users were keeling over with a strange ’plaque-like’ substance found round their hearts. Now we are being offered a pill derived from kidney beans which prevents boozers developing a beer- gut. It's all the consumer's fault really. We never learn.

(Brian Donaldson)

26 Sep—9 Oct 1997 THE US‘I'S