Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Heritage bodies unite to break Egyptian Halls impasse

Bookmark and Share | Send to friend

January 29 2020

Heritage bodies unite to break Egyptian Halls impasse

An alliance of heritage bodies has been formed under the stewardship of the Alexander Thomson Society in an effort to break a 40-year impasse which has left Glasgow’s A-listed Egyptian Halls in a state of limbo.

The recent shortlisting of the Halls as one of the 14 most at-risk cultural sites in Europe by Europa Nostra has galvanized campaigners to break the deadlock with representatives of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings assembling for a meeting of minds.

The on/off saga traces its roots back to a dispute over ownership, resolved following a compulsory purchase order in 2000 which left Dundonian developer Derek Souter as the lead owner of both ground and upper floors at a purported cost of £5.5m, presaging a full renovation plan drawn up by The Morrison Partnership and Addison Conservation with the approval of GGC and HES.

This moment of optimism as short-lived however as conservation efforts have since been stymied by disputes over grant funding, with Souter ruling out a full restoration as economically unviable. In the prophetic words of Gavin Stamp, writing as Piloti in Private Eye at the time: “Would the agency (Scottish Enterprise) now help with the restoration of a commercial building by Mackintosh?

“… Are they hypocrites or fools – or are these flash executives just reflecting the modern Glasgow culture of loathing good architecture and old buildings?”

The stalemate culminated in recent fears that the structure could be at risk of collapse, although the council disagree with this assessment, stating they ‘… carried out a survey of the building 18 months ago and found no danger of imminent collapse.’

It is hoped that the building owners and city council will also be able to attend Save Egyptian Halls in a spirit of common purpose to find an amicable way forward with a sale, façade retention or demolition considered to be the only options left on the table.

The symposium will take place at The Lighthouse on 21 February from 13:30 with tickets priced at £10.

Concerns have been raised at the deteriorating condition of the structure owing to a lack of maintenance
Concerns have been raised at the deteriorating condition of the structure owing to a lack of maintenance
Supporting scaffolding has been erected to protect decorative stonework
Supporting scaffolding has been erected to protect decorative stonework


#1 Posted by Billy on 29 Jan 2020 at 11:49 AM
No danger of imminent collapse. Well that makes it ok then! Really? The time for talking has stopped and action is required. Let’s hope something positive comes out of this.
#2 Posted by modernish on 29 Jan 2020 at 12:02 PM
Yip, you can always rely on a symposium to stop a building falling in to the street. Personally I'd suggest the developer actually putting his hand in his pocket and redeveloping the building. But in the meantime a symposium will sort; especially if it's 'hoped' the owner and GCC will attend.
#3 Posted by Elmo on 29 Jan 2020 at 12:36 PM
Let me get this straight, Brian Souter owns ALL the building but wants everyone else to put their hand in their own pocket to pay for his building?
#4 Posted by monkey9000 on 29 Jan 2020 at 12:54 PM
Brian doesn't own the shop units. I think that's part of the problem.
Wait what?
#5 Posted by Wait what? on 29 Jan 2020 at 13:30 PM
#3, #4 If that's Brian, then who is Derek?
Coatbridge Charlie
#6 Posted by Coatbridge Charlie on 29 Jan 2020 at 13:58 PM
Derek owns above shop level and his brother owns the units - handy eh. Derek picked up ownership for £5.5m and has spent nowt on maintenance....makes rachman look like mother teressa.
#7 Posted by Elmo on 29 Jan 2020 at 14:19 PM
Think I've got Derek confused wae the Stagecoach guy!!
#8 Posted by ATS on 29 Jan 2020 at 15:12 PM
#3-7 - The ownership of the building is split between two companies, Union Street Properties and Union Street Investments, one owns the upper floors, the other the ground floor and basement. Both are controlled by Derek Souter, Duncan Souter and Kelvin Kerr.

According to the LIS records the shop units were acquired for circa £500-550k each, whilst the upper floors were bought for £150k. These figures don't take fees etc into account, and are purely the sale price at the time only. Full ownership of the building by USP/USI was achieved in 2008/2009.
#9 Posted by Cadmonkey on 29 Jan 2020 at 16:17 PM
The other option is Compulsory Purchase surely?
Walt Disney
#10 Posted by Walt Disney on 29 Jan 2020 at 17:02 PM
Doesn't matter who owns the building. Souter, GCC, Hysterical Scotland etc. None have them have any money to restore or even repair the building. I'd imagine the last thing GCC would want would be to own a muti million pound liability.

Maybe start flying saltires from it and wee Nicola might take interest.
#11 Posted by CadMonkey on 29 Jan 2020 at 20:57 PM
Does anyone know of a listed building falling into disrepair that has actually been compulsory purchased?
I’ve seen a threat from a council before, but not actually seen a threat acted on.
Neil C
#12 Posted by Neil C on 30 Jan 2020 at 08:36 AM
#10 - The EU flag would do, too. Symbolism and raspberry-blowing seem far more important nowadays than looking after Scotland's architectural heritage (or anything else, for that matter).
#13 Posted by David on 30 Jan 2020 at 08:52 AM
GCC compulsory purchased the GPO building back in the 2000s to allow for its restoration to happen. Don’t see why they are dragging their heels with this one
jimbob tanktop
#14 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 30 Jan 2020 at 14:22 PM
Wasn't the difference that the old GPO building had no shortage of commercial suitors, was in a decent condition and a prime location, whereas this is essentially a shell with some vape shops, has had no commercial use for decades and is in the scuzziest street in central Glasgow?
#15 Posted by Cadmonkey on 30 Jan 2020 at 15:25 PM
So....lower the bar....does anyone know of a building owner who has ever been successfully prosecuted for letting a listed building fall into disrepair?
Fat Bloke on Tour
#16 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 30 Jan 2020 at 16:16 PM
Just a thought -- rentier capitalism at its worst?

Blazing Saddles level of business acumen -- Cough up or the destitute hulk gets it?
jimbob tanktop
#17 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 30 Jan 2020 at 20:09 PM

Not so much rentier as vulture capitalism.
Oor Wullie
#18 Posted by Oor Wullie on 31 Jan 2020 at 09:57 AM
Whit aboot Soapy, does he huv a stake n' aw?
#19 Posted by KLD on 2 Feb 2020 at 11:49 AM
Why doesn't Glasgow City Council serve a dangerous building notice? They could recover the repair costs from the owners.

Post your comments


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


Back to January 2020

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