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Glasgow City Council serve Egyptian Halls ultimatum

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July 9 2019

Glasgow City Council serve Egyptian Halls ultimatum

Glasgow City Council is attempting to break a stalemate in long-running efforts to preserve and regenerate the historic Egyptian Halls on Union Street by serving an ultimatum to its owner to carry out vital repairs.

Dundonian developer Derek Souter has been given until tomorrow to respond to its demand for concrete proposals to be brought forward for essential maintenance – or face enforcement action amid an increasingly acrimonious dispute over where the responsibility for meeting the repair bill lies.

The council asserted that no ‘meaningful’ maintenance has been carried out on-site since it articulated a list of its concerns to Souter in a letter dated August 2016.

A council spokesman said: “We wrote again to Mr Souter in June giving him 28 days to propose how he will undertake essential maintenance. If he fails to produce any such proposals by July 10, we will consider how best to use available legislation to compel the work to be carried out.”

Souter vowed to respond to the demand by tomorrow’s deadline and repeated calls for cooperation, telling Urban Realm: “I confirm that quarterly maintenance was carried out last week, which saw the parapet cleaned and swept of all pigeon guano, pigeon spikes re-fixed, roof cleaned, vegetation stripped back, rainwater pipes checked and some broken glass in a few windows removed, which has been carried out every quarter for the past 5 or 6 years.

“So one does wonder where the Sunday Times got the false and misleading information that this was not being actioned?”

Souter also stated that USP, the company that now owns the ground floor, will reiterate that it holds the council liable for a lack of maintenance carried out in the period 1996 to 2010 under the terms of a compulsory purchase order.

The dispute comes amid an ideas competition spearheaded by the GIA to elicit viable reuse proposals for the A-listed masterpiece.

16 Comments

Clarinda
#1 Posted by Clarinda on 9 Jul 2019 at 16:33 PM
I wonder if this is the council now realising you can't claim innocence and allow demolition of listed buildings when you as a public body have been aware and allowed their neglect over substantial periods of time.
David
#2 Posted by David on 9 Jul 2019 at 17:41 PM
The responsibility with the upkeep of this listed building is with the owner, not the council.

They refused demolition when the owner applied to demolish the building a few years ago, it is high time they served a compulsory purchase order and remove this masterpiece from Derek Souter's ownership, who seems to have no intention of renovating the building.
Yep
#3 Posted by Yep on 9 Jul 2019 at 20:19 PM
@David, agreed. Souter is clearly a complete chancer with no good intentions towards the building at all. Take the building off of him and let's get it restored by someone who has the desire/resource/smarts to do so.
boaby wan
#4 Posted by boaby wan on 9 Jul 2019 at 22:05 PM
Did GCC not already CPO this and then sell it to the current owner? Surely they have to take some responsibility for what's happened to this building, are they just going to sell it to whoever is going to give them the biggest brown envelope or will they actually assess the ability of bidders to action some meaningful restoration of the building before signing it over?
Dunbelievable
#5 Posted by Dunbelievable on 10 Jul 2019 at 08:50 AM
#4 if GCC did surely that's a matter of due diligence and not understand how 'clever' developers can be...
brown envelopes? any evidence of that you'd better trot to the polis..
boaby wan
#6 Posted by boaby wan on 10 Jul 2019 at 09:40 AM
#5 - their previous "due diligence" has left the building in it's current situation, does anyone really think Glasgow City Council are capable of being diligent?
Are you accusing Souter of being "clever"? you would hope that selling off a building like this would involve a lot of assurances and buy back clauses etc from a local authority who CPO'd it to secure it's future.
Right enough GCC have never been accused of corruption or cronyism when awarding contracts or procuring services, must all be in my head...
David
#7 Posted by David on 10 Jul 2019 at 10:06 AM
GCC sucessfully undertook a compulsory purchase order on the GPO building in George Square, from a developer who was leaving it derelict who did not have the means to restore it. It was then sold to another developer and restored within a few years.

This is what needs to happen here. Previous CPOs were only on small pieces of this building as at one time each floor had a different owner. I know GCC are not perfect but it is not their responsiblity to upkeep listed buildings that are in private ownership.
boaby wan
#8 Posted by boaby wan on 10 Jul 2019 at 10:23 AM
David, are you employed by GCC, seems you are deliberately conflating issues as some kind of defence of the local authority?
I don't think anyone is suggesting that the local authority is responsible for the upkeep of the building, but if they are CPO-ing buildings they have a responsibility to sell it to someone capable of a restoration - they have already cpo'd this building and sold it to the current owner with a seemingly terribly written agreement which has taken years to be unpicked, with the current owner still claiming that GCC are responsible for some of the upkeep - they can't allow the same situation again, but will they be truly diligent and not sell to the highest bidder or the one reliant on public funding to secure the future of the building rather
David
#9 Posted by David on 10 Jul 2019 at 11:43 AM
Number 8, no I do not work for GCC or in any public sector role, but they do not deserve the blame in this particular situation, the fault lies with Derek Souter who has been holding the council and Scottish government to randsom for years, wanting huge grants towards the works for what is a private commercial project.
Clarinda
#10 Posted by Clarinda on 10 Jul 2019 at 11:51 AM
The council is not responsible for the upkeep of listed buildings, that is true. It is up to the owner.

However what is the point in listing buildings if those who have the authority to serve notices on owners do not? There needs to be significantly more engagement, particularly from Glasgow Council (just look at the number of listed buildings on the at risk register) to service notices on the owners of heritage assets. It is vital to ensure buildings are maintained so that they can not be simply demolished on the grounds that they are beyond financial repair.
Dunbelievable
#11 Posted by Dunbelievable on 10 Jul 2019 at 13:49 PM
#6 'clever' I put it in inverted commas to help - its the least libellous statement I could make. a buyer of a listed building of such importance goes into it with their eyes wide open. due diligence fails everywhere...RBS, a certain £1 business on the south side. ahem.
and accusing is one thing, proving another so I would have expected more whistle blowers if there was evidence to back up any of the claims.
devilish advocaat
#12 Posted by devilish advocaat on 10 Jul 2019 at 18:02 PM
I'm not as long in the tooth as some of the other posters on here so am not as familiar with the entire backstory of Souter v GCC, but on the merits of this story alone think this a positive step in the right direction from GCC. Clarinda touches on it, but what is the point in listed buildings, conservation areas and the like if there is no onus on building owners to keep these buildings alive and well? Too often nowadays buildings of cultural, architectural or other interest are branded as 'not economically viable' or 'not stacking up' as an excuse to let them rot away and justify tearing them down with some imitation pastiche faux-whatever mockery built with the cheapest materials and in the quickest time possible. I appreciate that we live in a much changed economic world these days, but there needs to be fundamental changes I think to the way listed buildings are dealt with and the powers available to local authorities to preserve them.
Graeme McCormick
#13 Posted by Graeme McCormick on 10 Jul 2019 at 19:51 PM
If there had been Annual Ground Rent on all property and land then the property would have been a liability immediately on his purchase . Unless he had bottomless pockets he would have done something with it to cover the AGR.
Dunbelievable
#14 Posted by Dunbelievable on 10 Jul 2019 at 20:14 PM
#13 i like your thinking! Deeks likely got a nice motor that needs an MOT each year but his bigger investment doesnt....something wrong there too.
Billy
#15 Posted by Billy on 11 Jul 2019 at 09:33 AM
There was a proposal to make this a multi purpose building a few years ago with an arcade linking it to The Lighthouse. It looked good to me. What happened? And does anyone know what is happening with the site in Candleriggs which has been a blot on the landscape for the last 20 years? What happened to the ambitious plans to fill this gaping hole?
the advertiser
#16 Posted by the advertiser on 12 Jul 2019 at 09:07 AM
ho ho ho walked past it today and seen the current 3 storey advertising banner....the Lion King. irony eh!

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