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Glasgow hits peak students with a towering Charing Cross plan

December 6 2023

Glasgow hits peak students with a towering Charing Cross plan

Glasgow's student housing boom is hitting fresh heights with the submission of plans for a 36 storey student tower at the site of the former Portcullis House, Charing Cross.

Standing alongside a 10 storey partner the complex will host 784 student beds, partly retaining an existing concrete frame to limit carbon costs.

Designed by Hawkins Brown on behalf of Watkin Jones Group the high-rise scheme will include a top floor sky lounge hosting a viewing deck and events space, complemented by extensive landscaping at street level.

The project will also become home to the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network (GSEN). The charity will occupy a ground floor unit free of charge from where they will help to nurture entrepreneurial students. The unit will also serve as a tech recycling hub to help reduce e-waste. A double height commercial unit will also be offered opposite Charing Cross Station for occupation by a cafe or workspace.

Iain Smith, planning director of Watkin Jones, commented: “This exciting development at The Àrd will regenerate a brownfield site bringing vitality to this part of the city, providing high-quality and much-needed student homes, in addition to greatly increased public realm. “It will help to address a chronic undersupply of student accommodation, as well as repopulating the city centre and benefit local businesses as part of an overall renewal of the west end.

“We are delighted to welcome GSEN who will accommodate space in the building, should it be consented. This organisation will support the delivery of the next generation of entrepreneurs, also working with those students living in the building.”

Catering for ongoing university expansion the giant scheme is being driven by an estimated increase in the full time student population from 75,000 to 96,000 by 2027 - according to research by Montagu Evans. 

Double height sky gardens will help to break up the vertical mass
Double height sky gardens will help to break up the vertical mass
The student skyscraper will help to heal wounds left by the M8 cutting
The student skyscraper will help to heal wounds left by the M8 cutting


Will B
#1 Posted by Will B on 6 Dec 2023 at 11:04 AM
I just don't like it, it feels wrong and undoubtedly is not the best thing for the City or climate
Whispering Andy
#2 Posted by Whispering Andy on 6 Dec 2023 at 11:14 AM
Whisper it......but thats never happening.
Shatner's Bassoon
#3 Posted by Shatner's Bassoon on 6 Dec 2023 at 11:23 AM
Its a marked improvement on the first proposal from 2021.
Hopefully GCC can push them a bit further and we may get something half decent.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#4 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 6 Dec 2023 at 11:43 AM
Student numbers -- seems very artificial / optimistic.

Must be the low pound attracting in the global middle class.

Housing students must a license to print money at the moment to drive this Klondike.
#5 Posted by Jaded on 6 Dec 2023 at 11:55 AM
Excellent - looks fine and will hopefully drive the development of more towers in Glasgow.
#6 Posted by Spike on 6 Dec 2023 at 12:41 PM
Really like this proposal, have some doubts about further very high buildings in central Glasgow but think this is definitely the correct design solution for this site.
I do hope this is approved and building commences.
town planner
#7 Posted by town planner on 6 Dec 2023 at 12:44 PM
Supportive of this, hope it happens.
#8 Posted by Aaron on 6 Dec 2023 at 12:49 PM
Excellent, hopefully acts as the catalyst for many more towers to come. Though unfortunately this will probably receive many letters of objections - majority of which will be without any grounds from the NIMBY howlers. I will be putting in my letter of support.
Richard F
#9 Posted by Richard F on 6 Dec 2023 at 12:53 PM
Finally, something of a decent height to break up the wall of same-height buildings currently packed into the city centre, and a good-looking tower at that. Love the fins and the crown is nice too! Get it built.
A Local Pleb
#10 Posted by A Local Pleb on 6 Dec 2023 at 12:59 PM
Part of me thinks that it is quite out of scale compared to it's neighbours and another part thinks is student residential cow not on the verge of being milk dry? It appear to be the main use being promoted in many of the new developments in the city.
#11 Posted by Roddy_ on 6 Dec 2023 at 13:56 PM
It's like the previous scheme has had a workout and lost the excess weight.
A definite improvement in design with better articulation, but the real proof will come in how the block engages Newton St and Elmbank Crescent.
#12 Posted by Chris on 6 Dec 2023 at 14:55 PM
#10 A recent report stated Glasgow now has the highest student population outside London, so the demand is definitely there. Developers are veering away from BTR due to the current rent cap, so student housing is the only lucrative alternative for now.
#13 Posted by G1 on 6 Dec 2023 at 15:41 PM
Relax everyone...this will be accepted by Planners and rejected by City Councillors who seem hell bent on rejecting any kind of investment in the city that gives us a chance at some kind of regeneration.
James Hepburn
#14 Posted by James Hepburn on 6 Dec 2023 at 17:22 PM
I was always sorry the Elphinstone Tower never happened thanks to Gordon Brown and the disastrous recession he helped cause.
Green Pooper
#15 Posted by Green Pooper on 6 Dec 2023 at 22:08 PM
Providing the facing materials are of a good quality then this looks quite a reasonable development, which is probably why Angus Millar and his Green comrades will jump in and kill off this sensible, progressive scheme.
#16 Posted by Mark on 7 Dec 2023 at 12:32 PM
Without getting into Glasgow's parochial politics, sadly this is another example of why Planning decision-making should be taken away from "democratically elected members", who act in a narrow interest rather than the greater good. Judging by the comments above, the Greens have a growing PR/ presentation problem because they're not perceived as a progressive, pro-ecology, pro-low energy, pro-regeneration party - but instead they're acting like right wing reactionaries who are anti-progress, anti-development and worst of all, anti-regeneration. At times, it seems the whole process is stuck.
D to the R
#17 Posted by D to the R on 7 Dec 2023 at 13:46 PM
@#9 ... because it is stuck (!) and mostly because those with the power to make (or break) decisions to develop are ex-accountants or civil servants. They don't understand the economics of development or it's importance.

They want more people living in the City (refer GCC's latest work of fiction - The City Centre Strategy) but GCC planning continue to stifle development telling developers it's too tall, too new, too eh ... we don't like it. Comments mostly made by those who AREN'T architects, urban or landscape designers.
#18 Posted by Prince on 7 Dec 2023 at 17:18 PM
To use a technical term this looks class. I feel like it’s a shame that it’s student housing tbh. There are obvious problems with councillors being able to reject projects as folk have said above - if their party isn’t in charge they don’t want any progress. It’s in their interest for the city to lay undeveloped to make those in charge look bad. That’s the sad reality of the people that go into those jobs - petty
#19 Posted by Gregster on 7 Dec 2023 at 23:13 PM
Id have thought its one of the better locations to go a bit taller. The view coming over the kingston bridge is already pretty impressive, between this, whats happening between the bridge and india quay, and other potential developments it really could become quite a cluster of tall buildings. Im no architect or planner but that seems to be the right area of the city for that type of development.
Jake Janobs
#20 Posted by Jake Janobs on 8 Dec 2023 at 11:23 AM
Have any of these developers spoken to the higher education institutions recently? They all have under-recruitment/financial challenges this year due to global economic issues (e.g. Chinese housing market, ironically), and these are likely to be exacerbated by UK Government immigration agendas. Could end up with surplus of half-empty towers around the city.
Hairy Hipster
#21 Posted by Hairy Hipster on 8 Dec 2023 at 15:31 PM
@20 - do you think developers and funders are the Chuckle Brothers?
Fat Bloke on Tour
#22 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 9 Dec 2023 at 11:54 AM
21st century capitalism -- run by the Chuckle Brothers?

If only they had that level of competence.

Herd instinct unfortunately plays far too big a part in modern day business decision making.

Klondyking depends on speed -- those at the back of the herd will lose their and our shirts.

The situation in 2028 will be a lot different from today.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
#23 Posted by The Ghost of Christmas Past on 11 Dec 2023 at 09:45 AM
I wonder if, back in the day when Seifert’s office produced their famous brave new world aerial perspective of white buildings marching all the way from Charing Cross down to Anderston, did somebody say, well, I’m not so sure, where is the human life in this? ...

And so as nothing is new, let me be the first here to say, well, I'm not so sure now, either...
#24 Posted by GMan on 11 Dec 2023 at 13:19 PM

People not being able to afford to pay their debt wasn't a fault of Gordon Brown, particularly as it kicked off in the US due to the antics of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the Lehman Brothers, and the seismic effect spread globally off the back of that. Politicians dribbled and whimpered everywhere, the effects are still on-going, but it's the fault of the SNP that the UK is running on fumes lol

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