John McAslan will be carrying a lot on his shoulders when his meeting with Gordon Matheson about the future of George Square takes place on Monday. If he happens to be taking the main entrance to the City Chambers it'd be understandable if he feels that all the weight of the much-discussed red tarmac under his feet were bearing down, instead, from above.

It would be easy - and understandable - to be cynical about the motives for McAslan and Partners' continuing attachment to potential refurbishment of the Square. They had won the design competition, after all, and the subsequent cancellation of that process would leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth - as well as the loss of a chunk of work presumably already being scheduled within a fairly tight timescale. But stalled design competitions are a speculative write-off that architects take into account, and the McAslan practice is a significant international agency, with, one would guess, enough wiggle-room to neutralise any loss from the project's abandonment. Moreover, I now genuinely believe that the Glasgow-born McAslan (who has never claimed to act completely out of philanthropy) is handling public consultation as regards the future of the Square better than our elected representatives.

Monday's news (http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/citys-red-square-to-stay-until-after-the-games.20261008) that the conclusion seems to have been drawn that nothing of any significance will take place in George Square before the Commonwealth Games is a great disappointment, and I am glad that McAslan, fresh from his own public consultation meeting, expressed hope that another way ahead could still be found.

My colleague Tom Warren and myself had attended that meeting, to represent the views of New Glasgow Society, and I was impressed by how open and free from preconceptions its handling was. At a late stage of the proceedings, I had pointed to the 'elephant in the room': that (assuming no-one wished works to be ongoing during the Games themselves) the bar would have to be set fairly low in terms of what could be done to improve George Square before next year's international showcasing of our city gets under way. Many laudable possibilities had been suggested (not least, for example, the extension of traffic-free public realm westwards to unite Buchanan Street, George Square and the precinct of Dundas St) which would obviously be impossible pre-Games, but I was interested in restricting the possibilities to that which could be achieved within the time available.

...so it was a disappointment to discover that, for Glasgow City Council at least, it seems that the bar cannot be set low enough. I have to side with McAslan's reassurances that several improvements which appeared to enjoy the united endorsement of what was otherwise a constituency of strikingly diverse opinions - replacing the famously unpopular tarmac with paving of a decent quality and/or reinstating some soft landscaping, for instance - remained completely achievable within the time available, and represented relatively good value for money.

New Glasgow Society, and myself personally, are not amongst those that claim there is any natural or original state to George Square to which it must be restored. Glasgow's primary public place of assembly has always been in various organic stages of development - but its present state could so easily be improved in significant ways that would invigorate citizens as well as visitors when the Commonwealth Games roll into town.

I, and my colleagues at NGS, can only hope that on Monday Councillor Matheson will retain an open mind and exhibit a degree of ambition as to what remains practical and achievable for George Square.