Glasgow prioritises office-to-residential conversions to kickstart a struggling core
November 16 2022
Glasgow is considering how best to repurpose city centre buildings amidst research indicating that the pandemic has wreaked a heavier toll on the city than others.
A report into the city centre economy conducted by Stantec found that a comparatively small residential population and a reliance on regional commuting have placed the city at a disadvantage when contending with the rise of hybrid working. This is reflected in a near £1bn shortfall in economic activity of just £8.27bn, versus the pre-pandemic figure of £9.2bn.
Other indicators paint a similar picture of decline with city centre footfall remaining 19% below pre-Covid levels, with weekly and lunchtime footfall struggling to regain lost ground at 84% of pre-pandemic levels. This has not been offset by a rise in weekend and evening footfall of 11 and 18% respectively.
Compounding these issues has been a rise in energy costs as well as staff shortages which have propelled office vacancy rates to 14%.
A tandem report into city centre property conducted by Ryden shows that these shifts are fueling migration towards smaller, high quality and flexible spaces. Across the city more than 400 offices predating 1960 are now classed as obsolete, sparking renewed interest in conversion for residential use.
Particular emphasis is being placed on the upper floors of Victorian and Georgian properties with calls for greater incentivisation to prevent properties from lying empty for extended periods.
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "Specifically, the report identifies clear objectives in helping our recovery which are achievable and can be implemented immediately. Issues such as bringing older units which are no longer fit for purpose back into active use, helping the city meet targets for growing its residential population and working in partnership with developers to maximise the opportunity of catalytic developments, including existing proposals for Buchanan Galleries and St Enoch Centre..."
To address these issues Glasgow has pledged to work with the Scottish and UK governments to develop an action plan over the next two years to inform its City Centre Strategy.
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