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Façade retention bid prioritised to break Egyptian Halls deadlock

January 17 2017

Façade retention bid prioritised to break Egyptian Halls deadlock
USP and USI, ground and upper floor owners of Glasgow’s at-risk Egyptian Halls, have brought forward proposals for a façade retention scheme at the A-listed landmark after deciding that restoration is now ‘all but structurally undeliverable’.

Past attempts to restore the Halls stumbled after the Heritage Lottery Fund ruled out grant funding which would have seen the historic building refurbished for a hotel operator, casting doubt on the delivery of this latest scheme which still requires ‘some’ grant funding to progress in addition to agreement with NCP.

Should a stalemate continue USP have left a ‘new build’ option on the table although full preservation scheme could still be delivered, including a rebuilt rear wall and roof, if funding is confirmed.

The latest plans would establish a mews through route connecting Union Street to Mitchell Street, helping to reinforce the legacy of two of the city’s greatest architects; Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, by creating a direct pedestrian link from The Lighthouse through to Central Station.

In a statement USP wrote: “It’s been documented that the Rennie Mackintosh Lighthouse building is seriously underused and therefore financially compromised due to its cul-de-sac like and out of the way location. Also, the 36-year delay to reconcile the Egyptian Halls repairs issues has certainly curtailed the now long overdue regeneration of Union Street and arguably this continually deteriorating building makes an increasingly negative contribution to the urban realm. This project reconciles this.”

Plans drawn up by The Morrison Partnership envisage a street level ‘concourse’ threading through a central atrium with a hotel, restaurants and retail populating newly built accommodation behind a retained façade to a ‘modernised’ NCP car park.
A mix of uses would be arranged over nine levels
A mix of uses would be arranged over nine levels
Pedestrians will be able to walk direct from Central Station to Buchanan Street via The Lighthouse
Pedestrians will be able to walk direct from Central Station to Buchanan Street via The Lighthouse


Mr MoFlo
#1 Posted by Mr MoFlo on 17 Jan 2017 at 16:06 PM
36 years! My God, has there ever been a clearer example of a dysfunctional planning system. At least in the case of the Victoria they're not pussyfooting about - levelled within a year.
I do like the idea of of the mews but others examples of these new lanes, further down union street, have been awful. In fact I think Union Court is now permanently closed - need a kevlar jacket to make it through there at night. Delighted to hear the NCP car park is being modernised though.
#2 Posted by Yaldy on 17 Jan 2017 at 16:28 PM
Egyptian Halls with some last minute bouncebackability. Can't believe the shop tenants on the ground floor have lasted this long
#3 Posted by David on 17 Jan 2017 at 16:28 PM
I'm now even more sceptical about the future of this facade reading this.
#4 Posted by David on 17 Jan 2017 at 17:10 PM
This is an absolute disgrace! I cannot believe local and national government have been so complacent for all these years in allowing this building to fall into such a state of disrepair. It must be one of the finest buildings in the entire city, if not the whole of Scotland, and located on what was once one of Scotland's most high profile thoroughfares. Time, energy and money has been found for countless renovation schemes for less important buildings, most recently the Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street, which, while important in its own right, should not be prioritised over the Egyptian Halls.
It is also worth noting that the current owner is holding the council and government to ransom. His company should never have been allowed to buy this building without proving they had the necessary funds to renovate it, and whilst some grant funding should of course be awarded, the sums of money that Union Street Properties is talking about for a private sector project are ludicrous. Its high time Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government pulled the finger out and get on with the complusary purchase order and renovate ALL of this irreplaceable masterpiece before it is too late. It is an A listed building meaning that its interior, not just exterior, is of national and international importance. This project should be the top priorty for the city architecturally.
David Brodie
#5 Posted by David Brodie on 17 Jan 2017 at 17:21 PM
The Facade is safe log onto and read the latest structural review
Paul Sweeney
#6 Posted by Paul Sweeney on 17 Jan 2017 at 18:18 PM
It's quite clear that Derek Souter's shell development companies 'USI' and 'USP' and incapable of financing the redevelopment of this historic building into a productive new use. The 'Egyptian Halls Building Preservation Trust' he set up to bid for a HLF grant was also unsuccessful because it was essentially asking for 100% public grant funding to underwrite a commercial developer's costs and risk, which is brazen in the extreme. Souter should do the honourable thing and sell this building in whole to a developer who is suitably well resourced to finance a renovation project while drawing on a reasonable share of public grant funding. If he won't, then Glasgow City Council should consider a Compulsory Purchase Order to save the building from this stalemate situation and hand the building over to the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust or similar organisation for a viable restoration scheme to be developed.
Graeme McCormick
#7 Posted by Graeme McCormick on 17 Jan 2017 at 19:38 PM
If an Annual Ground Rent had been levied per square metre of floorspace the owners would not have left this building unrestored.
town planner
#8 Posted by town planner on 17 Jan 2017 at 20:28 PM
If this was many large cities in the world the facade would of course be retained, - no brainer, but built above it would be an exciting dynamic tower of some scale that hopefully takes the breath away a bit (in a good way!) Missed opportunity methinks...
Herge's Adventures of Ran-Dan
#9 Posted by Herge's Adventures of Ran-Dan on 17 Jan 2017 at 22:51 PM
Scafolding's been up so long I'm surprised it doesn't have a conservation order itself. I welcome any plans to rejuvenate that building, a direct route to the Lighhtouse would certainly a new dynamic to that part of the city centre.
#10 Posted by Billy on 18 Jan 2017 at 04:40 AM
Sadly neglected for too long. Let's just get on with it now before we lose the facade too. Union st needs it. The Lighthouse needs it. Like the arcade idea and a useful sheltered corridor to Buchanan st from Central. This should encourage more footfall in the lane leading to Buchanan st and hopefully the Lighthouse on the Lane. We should be turning our attention to other neglected buidings like the old Whatevery woman wants building with its French influence and others in the city centre.
#11 Posted by DEREK SOUTER on 18 Jan 2017 at 09:40 AM
I'd welcome the opportunity to meet with Paul Sweeney and David to detail just why USP and USI were left in the lurch since 1998 by GCC amending tbe CPO in 1998 without telling USP or USI until 2014. This amendment prevented legally the implementation of the original 1996 CPO from 1998 to 2009. During which costs quadrupled. Then GCC decided to not take any blame for the consequences of this non-disclosed CPO Amendment. And also ask why did GCC's then Chief Solicitor agreed a CPO with USP that was legally impossible to deliver as he when doing this did not know about the CPO Amendment one assumes his own Legal Department had implemented.

And in fact this approach is the personification of Mr Mo Flo's comment "has there ever been a clearer example of a dysfunctional planning system.

Or anyone can read this by clicking too
#12 Posted by David on 18 Jan 2017 at 11:29 AM
Dear DEREK SOUTER, I appreciate that you have had difficulty in dealing with the various public bodies involved, and they should bear some of the responsibility for the current deadlock. However as I stated in my first comment, your company should not be expecting to receive the sums of public money in grants that you have been quoted as talking about in the media, not for a venture which is going to be private one. Why don't you sell the building to someone who has ready capital to undertake a sensitive redevelopment instead of holding onto it for years waiting for some kind of public money windfall while the building further decays? If you care as much about this building as has been stated in numerous articles and on the Egyptian Halls website, surely you too would want to see the building restored sooner rather than later, even if this restoration is done by someone else?
#13 Posted by Yaldy on 18 Jan 2017 at 11:49 AM

What's the address of this what every woman wants building? That's the second time someone has brought this building up recently
#14 Posted by mick on 18 Jan 2017 at 12:14 PM
A mews runs through it. A goodish idea in principle but sadly many of citizens treat the public realm like outdoor toilets. Look at others in the area. Can anyone explain why fellow Glaswegians think that's acceptable. Just returned from Salamanca in spain. Beautiful public civic spaces. Life enhancing. why are we so bad at it?
#15 Posted by DEREK SOUTER on 18 Jan 2017 at 12:16 PM

If you check back you'd note that in 1997 £1.335M of grant funding was awarded for a destructive scheme. Then in 1999 a 100% preservation scheme (hugely praised by HES, Piloti, Gavin Stamp) was developed by TMP/Addison Consvervation on behalf of USP, which required £2M of grant funding or an extra £665k. This was approved, USP agreed the CPO that conveyed the Upper Floors title with GCC, got the former Upper Floor owners to drop their Court of Session Appeal. So that should have been that and this TMP scheme implemented. However it was then discovered the Upper Floors title could not be conveyed, it then took a decade to sort this. During this period and up to 2014 GCC never disclosed its error. So please take full cognisance of this. And as said more than happy to meet anyone and give them a tour/site visit and answer any questions. My mobile No is 07850 081188.
#16 Posted by DEREK SOUTER on 18 Jan 2017 at 12:40 PM
And for absolute clarification USP and USI certainly wish to progress all any options that can see the Egyptian Halls preserved and returned to commercial sustainability in conjunction with delivering a fair and reasonable commercial return to the core investors, which we’ve offered to put to mediation and arbitration

GCC-HES/Scot Govt and all local Preservation Trusts have been made aware of this during the past decade but no substantive, collaborative responses have been forthcoming from any of the aforementioned.

And to update further USP and USI have also again re- briefed their Lawyers and Chartered Surveyor to the effect that they have the mandate and authority to discuss all and any options on a private and confidential without liability basis with anyone at GCC DRS or GCC’s Legal Department.

I’m in Glasgow Friday 27th January and to repeat I’m happy to meet to give an tour/discuss any aspect (07850 081188).
Sam Patterson
#17 Posted by Sam Patterson on 19 Jan 2017 at 15:19 PM
For anybody else who is interested i have contacted Derek Souter today and we have arranged to meet outside the Egyptian Halls at 12noon on Friday 27th for a tour and discussion about the building. I would encourage you all to come along.
dave the detailer
#18 Posted by dave the detailer on 28 Jan 2017 at 12:58 PM
Any follow up comments from discussion and tour? Genuinely interested but was unable to attend.
#19 Posted by Billy on 28 Jan 2017 at 21:32 PM
#13. What every woman wants address was 341 Argyle St. It's in a very poor state. Vegetation is sprouting from the building. The roof has a French influence. The building attached to the left of it is not particularly interesting and is also in a poor state. Hope this helps you locate it.
#20 Posted by Yaldy on 21 Jul 2018 at 12:17 PM
#19, bit late to reply here, sorry. Cheers!
dave the other detailer
#21 Posted by dave the other detailer on 3 Jan 2019 at 14:05 PM
almost a year ago (from the last PR guff) and nowt has happened... c'mon Mr Soutar time to move and admit defeat and let others have a go..

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