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M8 'garden cap' seeds Charing Cross makeover

August 23 2023

M8 'garden cap' seeds Charing Cross makeover

A new urban park across the M8 will provide the backdrop for a £250m 'gateway' development at Charing Cross, reconfiguring an outdated office block as a retail and leisure deck framed by a landmark tower.

Glasgow City Council's planned 'green cap' has seeded plans for 300 Bath Street (formerly Tay House), stripping back office accommodation while leaving the concrete road bridge it sits on in place. New retail units are proposed in their place to extend Sauchiehall Street with improved access to the first-floor opening onto an elevated leisure deck spilling onto the garden below via a stepped terrace.

A design team led by Michael Laird Architects has been assembled by LSPIM to make this happen, incorporating the Seifert-designed Elmbank Gardens and Venlaw building into a single masterplan.

In a consultation statement the developer wrote: "Currently used as offices, these buildings were built between 30 and 60 years ago. As such, they do not now positively respond to the city and create undesirable streetscapes that are not in keeping with the desires of both the local authority and the public."

A fresh approach emphasises strongly defined streets over haphazard development with greater ground floor interaction, improved connectivity and a greater mix of uses to capitalise on the proposed public park between Sauchiehall and Bath Street.

Dominating the plan would be a 'gateway' tower to match the 32-floor student residences planned as part of the redevelopment of Portcullis House on Newton Street.

This would not emerge until the late 2030's however with the immediate focus being Elmbank Gardens and the Venlaw building, which could be demolished in the third quarter of 2025. 

Enhanced public realm will help to reconnect the city centre to the west end
Enhanced public realm will help to reconnect the city centre to the west end
The green cap is expected to extend south to Bath Street
The green cap is expected to extend south to Bath Street

The traffic choked district could become a future green lung
The traffic choked district could become a future green lung
Three prominent city centre buildings are all slated for demolition
Three prominent city centre buildings are all slated for demolition


Why Not
#1 Posted by Why Not on 23 Aug 2023 at 12:56 PM
Love it - now just get on with it please.
#2 Posted by Tara on 23 Aug 2023 at 14:06 PM
I hope the quality of the architecture proposed is up to it. The recent new builds around there are appalling. Not even up to the standard of an out of town retail park.

As an aside ..why do we need to add 'urban' as a prefix to everything? Is it meant to sound cool? Urban park, urban gateway...urban
Not Charing, just Cross
#3 Posted by Not Charing, just Cross on 23 Aug 2023 at 14:32 PM
The plans for the cap look solid and would be of great benefit to this junction, but how many of these bloody 'gateway' towers do we really need along the M8? Anderston quay pitched itself as a 'gateway', as does the proposed tower for the Washington street car park site, the student tower on st George's rd, portcullis house as mentioned in this article, and now this tower. Gateways to what? To where? You'd be forgiven for thinking the barbarians were on the march with the number of gateways being proposed. Developers need to learn when to call a spade a spade vis-a-vis over-development and avoid the area becoming an overcrowded, poorly served guddle.

Secondly, surely it hasn't escaped LSPIM's attention that they're proposing a 32 storey tower in a conservation area and faced on three sides by 4-5 storey listed buildings, including the category-A Charing Cross Mansions. Talk about an undesirable streetscape.
#4 Posted by Roddy_ on 23 Aug 2023 at 14:42 PM
Section 75 contribution incoming for the M8 garden cap, I suspect.
Tom Manley
#5 Posted by Tom Manley on 23 Aug 2023 at 15:00 PM
Student Accommodation can surely be made to work in retrofitting existing buildings in Glasgow...and questionable as the preferred building type on so called prime gateway sites, but guess as standard - it stacks up in developers sums for buildings.

Once electrification of the road system is complete - hopefully with better public transport, air pollution should be greatly improved here- and the idea of landscaping and creating open public space in ‘garden cap’ is surely much loved across the city as a ‘gateway space’. And as much chat here before, here’s hoping though an engineering solution allows space in front of Mitchell Library to be covered if at all possible and if ever this is done - been talked about surely since soon after the M8 was cut through the city streets! A 32 Storey tower seems somewhat overkill to say the least to me, and not an appropriate response to context let alone, overlooking retrofit potential. Two seems to be verging on bonkers and will obliterate the character of streets as much as building a motorway! Build a bold but better Glasgow! Hopefully ongoing consultations can make a success of this, and refurbish and reactivate extensively where possible.
town planner
#6 Posted by town planner on 23 Aug 2023 at 15:26 PM
I think additional height in the city centre is what is needed in Glasgow. Design quality is of course hugely important in this context.

Would also love to see more greenspace/trees and less concrete in the "green lung" they are describing.
#7 Posted by Roddy_ on 23 Aug 2023 at 18:58 PM
My spies on the ground tell me that a tall buildings policy for the city is due to be published soon.

When you look at the bloated proportions of the proposed massing such as those in the 3rd image you can really see why we need it - and soon. And especially in the part that arguably has the highest profile interface with the pre-modern city.
town planner
#8 Posted by town planner on 23 Aug 2023 at 19:44 PM
#7 I hadn't noticed the third image previously, and agree on the massing, the middle building is as wide as it is tall!
Ghetto King
#9 Posted by Ghetto King on 24 Aug 2023 at 09:08 AM
These towers all look futuristic and epic but so did the towers built in the 1960s. The only difference here is that they being built in the city centre and not mainly on the peripheral of the city. Has someone looked at the original post-war plans the city had for its centre? Slowly and surely the centre is being eroded.
Georwell 84
#10 Posted by Georwell 84 on 24 Aug 2023 at 09:17 AM
In the late 2030s! What will the Manchester skyline look like by then?
Tammy Skoosh
#11 Posted by Tammy Skoosh on 25 Aug 2023 at 14:26 PM
Great to see this progressing.

However, surely they can retain these highlighted buildings for demo? In developing a green "cap" they want to demolish embodied carbon for student accom? Insane! Retrofit First!
#12 Posted by Lovely on 26 Aug 2023 at 14:49 PM
Surely the M8 should be shut by the late 2030’s?
#13 Posted by Peter on 27 Aug 2023 at 08:06 AM
I find the images and words associated with this proposal very misleading. In the images the busy side roads, alongside and above the motorway, which will continue to be heavily used show no traffic ! The so called green lung will actually be surrounded by traffic and not easily accessed by pedestrians. It's a nonsense to suggest that this does anything to reconnect the city centre and the west end since it's the other roads, not the M8, which are the barrier.
This needs rethought before a huge amount of public money is wasted.
Having said all that I do agree that the demolition of the monstrosity that is Tay House can only be a good thing.

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