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Egyptian Halls owner raises fears of potential structural collapse

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January 13 2020

Egyptian Halls owner raises fears of potential structural collapse

The owner of Glasgow’s at-risk Egyptian Halls has warned of the potential for structural failure that could knock out power supplies to Central Station and the surrounding area and endanger traffic on Union Street.

The dire warning is contained in the latest update on efforts to conserve the landmark and lays bare the cumulative effects of inaction following 40 years of vacancy, during which time continued deterioration of the building fabric has gone largely unchecked.

A video posted by Union Street Properties warns of the ‘very real threat of structural collapse’ with an estimated 85% of the current structure needing to be replaced to stave off the potential failure of floor slabs, supports and beams. Which could precipitate collapse of the roof and front façade through a loss of structural integrity and lateral restraint.

A graphic demonstration of this ‘catastrophic’ risk is presented in the form of the façade collapsing onto Union Street together with secondary fears relating to the failure of parapet stonework which could present a fall hazard to pedestrians, a concern which has led to the installation of scaffolding as a precautionary measure.

Outlining the worst case scenario the report warns: “The Scottish Power substation in the basement of no.88 Union Street is the lynchpin of electricity supply for Union Street, Gordon Street, Mitchell Street, Argyle Street and Central Station.

“Any building collapse could knock out the electricity supply for the surrounding area causing massive disruption.”

The warning comes just weeks after the Egyptian Halls was named as being among the seven most endangered buildings in Europe. The Egyptian Halls have been shrouded in scaffolding for over a decade to mitigate against falling stonework.


#1 Posted by Alf on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:00 PM
If you own a car older than 3 years old, you are required by law to ensure that car is roadworthy via MOT. Is it possible that a similar system could be introduced whereby buildings of a certain age (even newer ones...) are inspected every, what, 5 years? Failure to comply with standards would require the building owners or stakeholders to remedy within a set period of time or be subject to some form of 'punishment'.
The video refers to the building being "subject to largely unchecked deterioration"; the whole things is a shambles. Its basically a old Triumph thats been left to rot outside in the field. Now the restorers need to swan in, where all that will be left of the original is the chassis and random parts.
Derek Souter
#2 Posted by Derek Souter on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:08 PM
Fao Alf, thanks for above and also if you have time log to the following

#3 Posted by Weiird on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:09 PM
lock this idiot souter up for not talking care of his building.
#4 Posted by E=mc2 on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:19 PM
Not sure what this scare mongering is intended to achieve. Sympathy on behalf of the owner, action by GCC, HES or Scottish Government maybe?

If I owned that building, the last thing I would want to be is complicit by basically demonstrating I have allowed the building to deteriorate to such an extent it is so precarious as to place people, jobs and livelihoods at risk which potentially causing major disruption within the city centre.

Time for GCC to serve an (or likely, another) enforcement notice I think
#5 Posted by Ross on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:47 PM
4- that's exactly what I was about to comment. It's almost as though this man is trying to boast about him allowing this building to become neglected to a point that it's about to fall down.

I can see this going the way of the Argyle Street buildings which are now cleared to make way for the beyond-mediocre JPMorgan building.
#6 Posted by KLD on 13 Jan 2020 at 14:54 PM
If the building is at imminent risk of collapse can it be assumed it has nil value and can be acquired by a restoring purchaser at a price that reflects this?
Gandalf the Pink
#7 Posted by Gandalf the Pink on 13 Jan 2020 at 16:00 PM
What a ridiculous presentation from a company who need a rocket up their arse.
It is nothing but scaremongering and bluster from a businessman who is trying to throw his weight around and getting his own way.

I would suggest that now Mr Souter has predicted a building collapse is a real danger he is duty bound to carry out the repairs required. In the event that a collapse does occur, and the building owner has already publicly accepted this is a risk, then I would like to see his team of lawyers let him wriggle out of the proceeding prosecution.

Go on Derek, do the right thing, hand the building back to the people of Glasgow and let's end this merry-go-round.

Derek Souter
#8 Posted by Derek Souter on 13 Jan 2020 at 17:01 PM
Go read the downloads or log to

Gandalf the Pink
#9 Posted by Gandalf the Pink on 13 Jan 2020 at 17:16 PM
No, i'm not convinced that website or downloads are written by parties exactly neutral on the topic.

Smarten up Derek. Do the right thing before the building collapses on a bus as you have predicted... Remember, you own it. You are responsible.

#10 Posted by Chris on 13 Jan 2020 at 17:28 PM
I can't stand Souter trying to capitalise on the conservation needs of an important building. A CPO is long overdue.
Derek Souter
#11 Posted by Derek Souter on 13 Jan 2020 at 17:45 PM
1) Go read the downloads anyway, contain many facts and quotes by GCC inc its Buildings at Risk Register

2) Until Dec 2019 GCC stated the facade could be repaired and the scaffold removed.

3) Chris, there was a 1996 CPO, USP sorted it, year 2000 scheme was approved to go ahead and then it was discovered that GCC had amended the CPO, which took 12 years to sort. However don't let facts get in the way.

So as said read the downloads and ask the questions of all parties.

And let's be clear there was also an approved schemem 2012-2013, which GCC was to support and fund but then never (ask the planning consultant/architect/strucutural engineer)

#12 Posted by airdrieman on 13 Jan 2020 at 18:10 PM
Maybe GCC realised that this conman was taking them to the cleaners so they pulled out...thought about that one?
#13 Posted by Matt on 13 Jan 2020 at 18:33 PM
What muppet actually drew that section?...
Derek Souter
#14 Posted by Derek Souter on 13 Jan 2020 at 19:28 PM
Please read the following extract from a GCC Letter to Culture Minister Hyslop (then again i may have fabricated this?)

"As you may know the Council has been working with USP Properties, the owners of the magnificent grade A listed Egyptian Halls building in Union Street Glasgow for many years in order to help them bring the building into a single ownership and, having achieved this, to bring forward suitable proposals for the refurbishment of the building for an appropriate productive use.

A considerable amount of correspondence and many meetings, over a prolonged period of time, have already taken place between the developer and his agents, the City Council and Historic Scotland - , and the developer has committed very significant expenditure on bringing the building into a single ownership, on preparing a range of technical and conservation studies, and in completing both option and development appraisals for a variety of potential end uses.

We have now reached a very critical stage in these discussions whereby there is a clear, but very time limited, opportunity to secure the development. The challenges to do so remain formidable, "
#15 Posted by airdrieman on 13 Jan 2020 at 20:22 PM
#14 aye so they realised you are a shyster.
Slick website by the way....all flash on others folks cash.
#16 Posted by James on 14 Jan 2020 at 08:27 AM
I don't know why anyone is giving Souter the time of day. The man's as dodgy as a £2 note.
He's the one that let this building rot to the point of supposedly being near to collapsing. He'll the the one sued if anyone gets hurt.
Big Red
#17 Posted by Big Red on 14 Jan 2020 at 08:50 AM
I remember seeing Souter standing up at an event to gripe how hard done by he was, blaming everyone but himself and his business venture for the demise of the halls. No one else to blame here, Derek. It’s hard to have sympathy. If it’s that much of a burden, hand the building over before it’s too late.
Derek Souter
#18 Posted by Derek Souter on 14 Jan 2020 at 09:08 AM
Fao "BIG RED" (next time speak up!!!) and "James" et al


December 1990:External inspection reveals the building to be in poor condition, with the upper floors vacant for over 10 years. Developers have expressed an interest but the principal owner lives in Hong Kong and does not wish to sell.

January 1991:A Repairs Notice is served. Glasgow District Council considers compulsory purchase.September 1995:Local planners report that the condition is deteriorating with extensive stone repairs required. Repairs are subsequently undertakenfollowing an Urgent Works Notice.

August 1995:The Scotsman reports consent has been granted for restoration. The building currently suffers from weakened concrete floors and rotten windows and the external walls require stabilisation.

March 1996:A Compulsory Purchase Order is announced to the press. (An integral part of this agreement is GCC becoming liable for Maintenance as per CPO Terms and Conditions)

Extracts from GCC Buildings at Risk Register.

AND LET'S NOT LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF NOT BLAMING GCC-HS/HES. and just skim to the opinions of the late and great Greek Thomson champion Professor Gavin Stamp

#19 Posted by James on 14 Jan 2020 at 09:18 AM
Derek, all your evidence comes from your own website of extremely cherry picked sources.
Direct readers to a truly objective report that proves that the buildings deterioration isn't because of your total mismanagement of a once great structure. You can't though because this shambles is all on you. Quit trying to con money out of people and give up the building if you can't afford to restore it.
#20 Posted by David on 14 Jan 2020 at 10:16 AM
Derek Souter,
You are now a participating factor in the continued deterioration of this building. It has been in your possession for many years now, either develop it or sell it to someone who has the funds to do so, instead of continuing your ridiculous rhetoric which has been the same for years now, everyone knows that it's nothing but froth and hot air. Your continued obsession with bringing up past difficulties is only allowing the building to become even more dilapidated. The time for discussion and debating is over, the redevelopment must get moving before it is too late. I don't know why your company expects the government, local or national, to heavily subsidise a private venture, a hotel is not a public building such as a gallery, museum or library. Quite frankly, there is no public sympathy for you or your company whatsoever. If anything happens to this building on your watch, the Scottish public will never forgive you, and you will have to live with a beloved building being lost under YOUR responsibility. Act now or sell up to someone who can.

Ps. Perhaps spend less time replying to all the comments on Urban Realm and actually do some work, or is your commitment to the restoration of the Egyptian Halls such that you have all this free time to furiously type up replies detailing supposed quotes from Glasgow City Council from the 1990s??!! Get a grip and get to work.
#21 Posted by airdrieman on 14 Jan 2020 at 13:14 PM
hey chaps..
what about a counter petition to get Derek stripped of ownership of the building? that might get slightly more than 8k signatories?
Andy Pandy
#22 Posted by Andy Pandy on 14 Jan 2020 at 13:35 PM
why bother keeping it all these years then? Does he just want the site but not the building? or is that stating the obvious? If theres been so many obstacles, why does he bother? talking P*%h me thinks!!
#23 Posted by David on 14 Jan 2020 at 13:42 PM
Why was GCC to fund the scheme? Is the building not owned by USP Properties.
If I need to repair my house - I pay for it. Do those rules not apply to you?
Derek Souter
#24 Posted by Derek Souter on 14 Jan 2020 at 15:14 PM
Fao David, i'll summarise as follows in 1997 GCC/HS/GDA were to grant fund £1.4M towards the project but it was held up by a legal problem. USP solved that legal problem, agreed to take on the 1996 CPO, got a brilliant 100% scheme approved Year 2000. And then to its absolute consternation then discovered prior to USP's late 1998 involvement GCC had amended the CPO early 1998, which was legally irreversible and then took from until Jan 2010 to reconcile which by the costs had trebled making all schemes non viable a FACT both GCC and HS are on record in correspondence. All of this is online and available to read. Well for those that wish too anyway.
Derek Souter
#25 Posted by Derek Souter on 14 Jan 2020 at 15:18 PM
Fao James- log to GCC's Buildings at Risk Register,- it states the Upper Floors have been empty since 1980. USP did not get the title sorted till Jan 2010, GCC and HS then agreed all schemes were non viable. And agai read the opinions of Piloti. And then come back with substance.
#26 Posted by Balgowan on 14 Jan 2020 at 18:38 PM
No-one cares about what happened decades ago. We want to know what you're going to do to give this building a viable future.
#27 Posted by FHM on 15 Jan 2020 at 06:06 AM
Why on earth is this fool able to be a continued building owner when holding the public to ransom for this absolute recklessness? Glasgow really needs to get it's act together lest another suspicious fire mysteriously appears in an important listed building.

The sheer arrogance of the owner is shocking, and it seems as if they are blindly leading themselves to prosecution.

Though, having read his responses, I half expect him that he wants this so he can be held up as a pariah whilst the building crumbles in his absence so he can say "told you so". Embarrassing.
#28 Posted by David on 15 Jan 2020 at 09:44 AM
FAO Derek.
I still don't get why GCC are providing funding. It is your building. If it was a condition of you buying the building that you got funding, you should have made sure it was in place. If it was not a condition of you buying the building and now you find the redevelopment is unviable- that is part and parcel of being a developer.
don't doubt that GCC have been useless, but again you should have expected that!!
jimbob tanktop
#29 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 15 Jan 2020 at 10:40 AM
Derek, you're a chancer. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and certainly when it comes to getting things built people need to be. However, there comes a point, after years and years of trying and failing, pointing the finger at everyone else that the only person left to point at is you. It's not going to happen. That big pay-off? A desert mirage. You don't have the money, nor can you raise it. There's no shame in that. Failing to cut your losses and at the same time allowing an internationally important building to thrive? That's shameful.

Sell up and pass it on to someone who has the money to do it justice.
#30 Posted by Mr FACT on 15 Jan 2020 at 12:04 PM
Mr Souter must be telling truth, he says FACT, so it must be!!

Why come on here and argue the case? I assume everyone else has given up listening to him too...
#31 Posted by weiird on 16 Jan 2020 at 14:00 PM
Souter, is your structural engineer 6 years old?
Or did you pay a CAD guy a score to mock that up on MS paint?
Gandalf the Pink
#32 Posted by Gandalf the Pink on 16 Jan 2020 at 14:01 PM
Walking past the Egyptian Halls today I was struck, not a piece of falling masonry, but by the occupied shops in the ground floor.

I wonder if Mr Souter has informed the lease holders in these shops of the collapse risk in the building? I wonder if collapse is a serious risk whether he should evacuate the shop owners as soon as possible?

Mr Souter has been keen to reply to comments on this thread. Perhaps Mr Souter can confirm whether he thinks it safe for people to continue to occupy the building?
quality polis
#33 Posted by quality polis on 17 Jan 2020 at 10:07 AM
and what's more, that bus is definitely facing the wrong way...
John Grant
#34 Posted by John Grant on 17 Jan 2020 at 11:19 AM
It is not difficult to discern the underlying long term strategy - allow the building to deteriorate to the point at which public safety demands demolition - and then own a hugely valuable city centre site with no encumbrances. All the verbiage and correspondence allows time to pass with no effective restoration activity - and time is the critical factor in the owner's favour. It already seems that the building is approaching, indeed may have passed, the point of no return in terms of restoration. The strategy is proving effective - or am I misreading the intentions of the owner....?
Glasgow Bob
#35 Posted by Glasgow Bob on 22 Feb 2020 at 06:52 AM
And there you have it! Grasping Derek wants £10m for the building he spent nowt on for decades after buying for buttons. Rachmann could learn a lesson off this character...

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