We have submitted the objection below to Glasgow City Council, and would urge others to do the same. Due to rights issues, we're unwilling to reproduce the renderings and images depicting the proposal here, but we would suggest you view them here ('View 1', 'View 2', etc.) - plans are also available on that page. Please consider this proposal very carefully. The deadline for submissions has now passed, and we await developments with interest.

This is a proposal that compromises the character of Sauchiehall Street, regardless of its impact on the Art School, and the present 02 ABC building - both structures of obvious historical and aesthetic importance. We deserve better.

8 September 2016

The New Glasgow Society wishes to note our objection to the planning proposal, 16/01883/DC, (Demolition of existing building and erection of student housing development with ground floor commercial and associated works) at 294 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JA, lodged on 3rd August 2016.

New Glasgow Society does not object to the redevelopment on the site in principle and welcomes the attempts by the city to regenerate this important Glasgow thoroughfare, in addition to the attempts by both the architects and developers to utilise high quality materials and finishes on this commercial development within a highly prominent city centre location. However the proposal presented is clearly for a market-driven development (rather than architecturally significant) proposal which will damage the character of Sauchiehall Street, the Central Conservation Area, and the distinct east gable and south elevation of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow School of Art School building. We believe that the proposal in question represents a distinct over-development of the site, outwith the general urban grain and character of the Sauchiehall/Garnethill district. We also believe that there are a number of areas of concern with the proposal as submitted on 3rd August which planners should seek to address.

Glasgow School of Art and Context

We believe that the proposed development will have a significant detrimental impact on the setting and character of the Glasgow School of Art. The large scale of the development, and its ziggurat form (particularly its protruding central block) will result in a loss of light to the studios facing south of the art school building, whilst impacting significantly on the urban context.

Within the Glasgow City Council, City Plan 2, (DES 3), the council outlines its aim to “preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the City’s conservation areas and protect their settings, to protect the special architectural and historic interest of the City’s listed buildings…” (p.121). It is our belief that under these policies for new development that the proposal submitted fails to adhere to the following policy objectives, to:

  • preserve and enhance the special character and appearance of the area, respect its historic context and have regard to the historic plans of the area;
  • be of a high standard of design, respecting the local architectural and historic context and use materials appropriate to the historic environment; 
  • protect significant views into, and out of, the area.

The siting of the proposed development is such that it will have a major impact on the wider Central Conservation area in addition to one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of the city, the Mackintosh Art School building at Renfrew Street, which the proposal adjoins. It is our belief that the form and character of the development would also have an adverse impact on the important attempts by Glasgow City Council and its partners to have the Glasgow School of Art listed as World Heritage Site.

Glasgow City Council identify principal views in the Glasgow Central Conservation Area Appraisal (2012) along Sauchiehall Street and in both directions up and down Dalhousie Street. The proposed development will drastically alter these pre-eminent views of the townscape. In particular this will present a significant change to the architectural character of how the Glasgow School of Art (Category A-listed, LB33105) is viewed and considered within the wider townscape. It is noted within the Conservation Area appraisal that, "This unique structure with its wealth of sculptural art nouveau details appears monumental when viewed from the foot of Dalhousie Street or Scott Street where the Scottish tower house influence is particularly evident." The proposal as presented for new development will have a significant detrimental impact on this structure, in particular the east gable, facing down Dalhousie Street to the south. The 'tower house' references and marriage of contemporary architecture with historical Scottish architectural typologies, visible in the variation between east and west gables, will be swamped by any development which allows for the construction against this boundary. The developments central ‘ziggurat’ stepped section, mirroring its Dalhousie Street elevation, in the centre of the block will further damage the view of the southern elevation of the art school building, removing these from the public and therefore privatising this view to the occupants of the new development. 

Further to the development's long-term impact on the future standing of the Central Conservation Area, the proposal may also adversely impact on any future application to have the Mackintosh Glasgow School of Art Building listed for World Heritage Status. Not only does the development occur within the proposed ‘Buffer Zone’ outlined in the Proposals Map developed and adopted by Glasgow City Council, but will significantly alter the immediate context of the building prior to any application for world status.

Sauchiehall Street Character & Urban Grain

Linear blocks, horizontal rhythm of street broken by proposed built form. Blocks which follow height of neighbours. Grain of Dalhousie Street is for individual blocks to follow step of hill individually rather than a single long elevation which steps.

We note that Sauchiehall Street is strongly defined by a series of long, linear elevations, notably the category A-listed Centre for Contemporary Arts, category B-listed Mclellan Galleries and category C-listed O2 ABC. All of these adjacent buildings, and much of the remainder of Sauchiehall Street is characterised by urban blocks, stretching east-west within the grid pattern forming long perspectival lines. This forms a strong, unified townscape of blocks strongly related to the topography.

The conservation area appraisal notes how the area is characterised: "The long east-west streets provide the main frontages, but ingenious use of the steep sloping north-south streets for subsidiary elevations is a characteristic of a number of buildings, notably the Mackintosh Building of the Glasgow School of Art." (Conservation Area Appraisal). The large scale of the proposed development does not take this key urban characteristic into account with the proposed elevations utilising the same repeated form, proportion and character to both the primary southern elevation to Sauchiehall Street and secondary elevation to Dalhousie Street. The lack of a nuanced handling of primary and secondary elevations can be seen to represent the failures of previous development as seen on the site presently with a lack of care given to the topographical character of the city. 

It is noted within the Conservation Area appraisal that streetscape cohesion is a key challenge facing the development of the city, “Some streets have lost their cohesion through the unsuccessful integration of modern interventions within the Conservation Area with regard to scale, design, style and materials and the redevelopment of substantial portions of entire street blocks to create large open commercial floor spaces. This has resulted in buildings that ignore topography and disrupt unified areas.” It is our belief that the proposed development, by stepping up to its eastern end will produce a significant change to the primary overall elevation of Sauchiehall Street, uncharacteristic of the area.

Given these significant material changes to the nature of the Central Conservation Area which substantially affect the setting of the Glasgow School of Art we believe this application should be recommended for refusal in its current form.

New Glasgow Society
1307 Argyle Street
Glasgow G3 8TL