Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Developer expresses regret as B-listed Hillhead church is primed for demolition

March 20 2024

Developer expresses regret as B-listed Hillhead church is primed for demolition

Wemyss Properties has held a second public consultation ahead of a detailed planning submission in May for the site of the former Hillhead Baptist Church on Cresswell Street.

The extent of required structural and fabric repairs has seen the developer prioritise a strategy of full demolition for the roofless B-listed building, dismissing options for full or partial retention based on a 2023 report by Simpson & Brown.

This points to 'misguided' repairs involving cement coatings which have exacerbated water damage to stonework. The developer also states that retention would compromise the quality of apartments it can deliver.

Expressing regret at this state of affairs Wemyss wrote: "Extensive research, reporting and sensitivity analysis has been undertaken to consider full retention and partial retention of the church but a combination of rising costs and the condition of the existing building have made these options unviable.

"It is acknowledged by the applicant and the consultant team that the removal of a listed building is far from ideal and a source of regret for all involved. It is however unavoidable in the current circumstances and, in light of this, the proposed demolition has recently been supported by Historic Environment Scotland as well as the Glasgow Urban Design Panel, who expressed general acceptance of a scheme which involved full demolition."

Noting that the church predates surrounding tenements Wemyss and EMA Architects propose a combination of ashlar stone and red zinc panels to dress primary elevations in a proportionate response to adjoining tenements.  

Ornate lighting columns will be all that is left of the B-listed church
Ornate lighting columns will be all that is left of the B-listed church
The roof of the church has already been removed as a safety precaution
The roof of the church has already been removed as a safety precaution


#1 Posted by Charlie on 20 Mar 2024 at 13:12 PM
Good luck with your proposal, Wemyss Properties, in what is one of the most highly regarded and complete historic conservation areas in Scotland. Your proposals will be resisted by the community, politicians and residents, until you incorporate the A Listed facades into your proposal, or sell the site to someone else who will. If retention is not an option, then the facades could be dismantled and rebuilt. The extra cost in doing so can be justified given that it is an area with some of the highest house prices in Scotland. This current proposal represents a shameful and blatant disregard for the urban context and history of the area, and the community will fight hard to ensure that you are not granted planning permission.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 20 Mar 2024 at 13:19 PM
I wonder about the ownership history of this particular building -- who bought it and when with regard to their plans and how they have changed?

Who was responsible for the "misguided" repairs and will they be held accountable?

Interesting that HES have rolled over on this building while preparing to die in a ditch for a 1930's cinema of no known significance.

How a city dies -- property development can always be accommodated while manufacturing industry has to jump through hoops.

Not Good.

Surprised it ha
stevie steve
#3 Posted by stevie steve on 20 Mar 2024 at 13:27 PM
Clearly the developer had no intention of keeping the church and was just looking for a plot in rich area. Depressing
West End Bod
#4 Posted by West End Bod on 20 Mar 2024 at 13:45 PM
Oh, fuck off Wemyss Properties...
No chance are they getting away with that!
Fat Bloke on Tour
#5 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 20 Mar 2024 at 13:46 PM
Surprised it hasn't burned down yet ...

Taking the roof off was a masterstroke -- the interior is too wet to ignite.

Small mercies you might say.

The building needs to be kept and rebuilt.
#6 Posted by Jaded on 20 Mar 2024 at 14:17 PM
Utterly inconceivable that this would be allowed to happen.
#7 Posted by Cressfallen on 20 Mar 2024 at 15:33 PM
For anyone interested in making their voices heard, the consultation comments are open until 7:15 here:

Here's a starter for ten for point 3:
The demolition of the existing building should be seriously reconsidered with a view to incorporating it into the proposed development.

The civic importance of the existing building needn't be explained, and cannot be brushed aside as a matter of opinion, evidenced by its category A listed status. HES describes category A listed buildings as being "Buildings of special architectural or historical interest which are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type." To dismiss concerns regarding the loss of such a building is no small matter, however that is precisely what Wemyss Properties intend to do. Simpson/Brown, a well respected architectural conservation practice and experts in their field, prepared as recently as 2023 studies into the full or partial retention of the existing building and its incorporation into the proposed development. Wemyss seem to have paid little mind to their recommendations that the building could, in fact, be saved instead choosing to focus their attention on the negative aspects of the reports to justify their cost-based decision.

Furthermore, the poor state of repair evidenced in the consultation materials should be understood as the product of a willful campaign to clear the site for development. The removal of the roof was undertaken under spurious pretenses and at no point since its removal have the building's owners made attempts to shore-up and watertight the building. Temporary measures to ensure the longevity of this historic asset would cost a fraction of the overall build-cost of the proposed development. Not implementing such measures is, and has long been, evidence of negligent building management. Such action directly contravenes the duties set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 to keep and maintain the good order of listed buildings.

The situation reeks of transparent profiteering and allowing it to go forward, allowing the calculated demolition of a Category A listed building, sets a desperate precedent for the rest of Glasgow's historic building stock. Choosing - and I emphasise that this is a choice - to demolish the existing building speaks to a lack of will rather than a lack of ability or feasibility.
Jimbob Tanktop
#8 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 20 Mar 2024 at 18:45 PM
Regrets? He's had a few. But, then again, too few to mention
#9 Posted by Billy on 20 Mar 2024 at 21:23 PM
Oh really? And to replace it with that! If they can rebuild a wonky pub down south from scratch and other nations across Europe can rebuild buildings as was ....why can't they?
Ghetto King
#10 Posted by Ghetto King on 21 Mar 2024 at 10:43 AM
Why not send all complaints to the people behind Wemyss Properties?
A quick Google search for their Companies House listing would give the contact names.

I think we all know that this building will be demolished as quickly as possible after any public consultation. However , how easy would it be if the roads were suddenly impassable?

#11 Posted by Clarification on 21 Mar 2024 at 12:19 PM
It’s B listed not A listed as currently stated in this article.
#12 Posted by Peter on 21 Mar 2024 at 13:50 PM
So, scare the developer, restore the ruin and then what? Have it closed 6 days a week, or for hire as another cheap wedding function? Some local club benefiting usual 3 people and machine-guninng donation requests? Yet another overpriced coctail experience?

Quite curious about fellow fighters ideas of post-developer-era.
Hairy Hipster
#13 Posted by Hairy Hipster on 21 Mar 2024 at 14:40 PM
Exactly @12. Nimbyism is all about finding reasons to prevent progress, not about working realistic long term solutions. A lot of times they are using their 'reasons' to protect the value of their own properties nearby.

I'm just wondering who would be best placed to decide whether this property is worth saving:
* Option A: Historic Environment Scotland with their extensive knowledge, resources and understanding of this very theme, or
* Option B: Tinpot local community group full of their unwarranted self importance. Very little experience of the subject, but wont let that get in their way.

The sooner these nimby fueled organisations lose any significance in the planning process the better. A group of unqualified, know-little and do little egomaniacs!

The bespoke designed church is past its usable life - that is clear to anyone with eyes. Its structure and build mean it cant function efficiently for much else. Its done, kapout, finito!

The real question is, would the nimbys rather have a fenced off dangerous carcass of the rotting building, or a brand new building tailored to the 21st century and the modern residential demands? I know what I's chose.

And finally.... I think the new design is excellent. Yes its not as impactful or pretty as the old church was, but its not 1830 anymore. Net zero is a thing.
#14 Posted by automat on 21 Mar 2024 at 15:47 PM
@13 People should have a say in how their communities look and develop, regardless of their education or background. Caring about your neighbourhood or city does not make you an egomaniac.

The choice is not between demolish and new build, this is simplifying a complex issue for the benefit of your argument. A facade retention with new build elements behind this should be possible as there is access to the interior face of the facade since it has no roof. In terms of net zero this is a better solution as the primary structure already exists.

There are plenty of gap sites and brownfield land across Glasgow that could be developed if the concern is progress and creating buildings of the 21st century. This would start to address the issue of disjointed areas between the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods, just without demolishing a listed building.
#15 Posted by Furrapeople on 22 Mar 2024 at 12:04 PM
@Hairy Hipster. Yeah, yeah leave it to the experts who know better (but don't have to live in their creations).
#16 Posted by Peter on 22 Mar 2024 at 12:13 PM
#13 - Amen to that.
#17 Posted by Ed on 24 Mar 2024 at 16:54 PM
...why not just build a concrete mosque on the site? Or just give it to muslim faiths - they did it on Dixon Avenue, "church" is still standing.
#18 Posted by Ed on 29 Mar 2024 at 16:40 PM
Masterclass in avoidance of responsibility to the built environment in Hillhead. Cat B is still a problem, so "developers" attempt (and succeed) to destroy the buildings' fabric over several years. #Hairy Hipster lets the visage slip when he describes people who give a +++k as a "Tinpot local community group". Yet another uninspired sub-allan-murray muck with all the usual empty phrases sprinkled over cheapest-lowest-common-denominator-materials.
#19 Posted by BrianEno on 29 Apr 2024 at 22:52 PM
#13 ok Wwemyss Property - oh I mean ‘hairy hipster’ I sincerely doubt you’re either of those things.

What you’re saying is insane. The building doesn’t need to be used as residential. It could be any number of things and should be used in such a way that retains the original structure.

Post your comments


All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.


Back to March 2024

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.