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Councillors topple Speirs Wharf build to rent towers

February 24 2021

Councillors topple Speirs Wharf build to rent towers

Glasgow councillors have gone against the advice of planners to refuse the construction of 182 build to rent apartments at Speirs Wharf, citing issues around their scale, location and a lack of green space.

Stallan-Brand Architects and Hocton Securities had proposed to transform the canal-side district by erecting two towers, the taller reaching 20 storeys, on land bounded by Farnell Street and Sawmillfield Street that would have opened directly onto a towpath opposite B-listed warehouses, but this was rejected by 11 members of a 15-strong panel of councillors.

Speaking to the Evening Times councillor Alan Casey raised concerns over a possible contravention of the city development plan although planners have confirmed it would be acceptable. He said: “This rings alarm bells in terms of a massive over development of this site given that the density is so high and the lack of open space that has been identified. It just seems over proportionate to what we would approve at committee and I have significant concerns about that."

Councillor Josephine Docherty added: “On the screen, this development looks wonderful and acceptable. But in my heart, I feel we are rebuilding something Glasgow rejected decades ago. The high density worries me, and I think it it’s going to be a concrete jungle – it’s the sort of thing we got rid of in the old days in the Glasgow Gorbals.” 

Reacting to the decision Paul Stallan of Stallan-Brand told Urban Realm: "It’s worth noting that our Speirs Wharf design was fully recommended for approval by Glasgow’s Planning team and was supported by Glasgow’s Urban Design Panel. In this instance, the planning committee decided not to support their own officers advice believing the development was over dense.

"Whilst disappointed we fully respect members personal views. We confirm however that our proposals were developed in response to the City’s planning policies which are encouraging greater urban density with sights set on doubling Glasgow’s existing metropolitan population by 2040. Glasgow has published its commitment to delivering its sustainable ‘Compact City’ ambitions.

"Against this context, we will review with our client what options are available to us. We are positive there is a route forward."

Farnell Street would have been transformed from a neglected cul-de-sac by opening up canal access
Farnell Street would have been transformed from a neglected cul-de-sac by opening up canal access
Planners were of the view that a tall building in this location could be justified as its positioning retained key views of a B-listed warehouse while acting as a symbol for the emerging neighbourhood.
Planners were of the view that a tall building in this location could be justified as its positioning retained key views of a B-listed warehouse while acting as a symbol for the emerging neighbourhood.


mr charrington
#1 Posted by mr charrington on 24 Feb 2021 at 12:00 PM
I would think this is exactly what is required to kickstart this area. Cant understand this decision.
If it was already passed for student residence why is industrial use cited as a reason for refusal. Comments about concrete jungle are misplaced.
Spiers What?
#2 Posted by Spiers What? on 24 Feb 2021 at 12:23 PM
Terrible scheme. The 'public space' is just stairs and a huge ramp that would become an oppressive and intimidating place for people to traverse through rather than populate.

The design emphasises the inappropriate massing of the building by expressing the horizontal floor plates, which over-sizes it to the eye. Each visualisation is taken from an oppressive angle that demonstrates either the height, the overshadowing, or lack of human scale and green space. Not to mention that the elevations are fussy and disproportionate. Buff brick and sepia tones? Very unappealing.
#3 Posted by Jimbo on 24 Feb 2021 at 12:44 PM
looks like a high quality scheme
I don't understand why Glasgow would wish to reject someone wanting to invest significantly in the area
G Man
#4 Posted by G Man on 24 Feb 2021 at 13:53 PM
Place is an absolute dump around here, GCC prefers to keep it looking like a hangout for crack heads, this would've been a massive improvement.
G Man
#5 Posted by G Man on 24 Feb 2021 at 13:58 PM
That councillor is full of garbage, this sort of stuff is similar to developments in London and Manchester, not good enough for Glasgow? What about the tower down at New City Road then or the one that's doesn't look its going to be finished on Clyde Street? haha total joke!
#6 Posted by MV on 24 Feb 2021 at 13:59 PM
It worries me when a scheme meets the requirements of the planning officers, which I therefore assume broadly meets planning policy (as Paul confirms) and then for political reasons or "my hearts rulling my head" nonsense, councillors decide to go against it (or for, vice versa). I'm sure there are some really smart councillors out there... but I’ve not met one yet. Baffling decision given the "housing shortage".
Oh dear....
#7 Posted by Oh dear.... on 24 Feb 2021 at 14:10 PM
Incredible that the Hypostyle scheme down the Gallowgate can get planning consent but this can't.
jimbob tanktop
#8 Posted by jimbob tanktop on 24 Feb 2021 at 15:13 PM
This is just gesture politics. It'll be granted on appeal, nothing surer.
#9 Posted by Gee on 24 Feb 2021 at 15:18 PM
This is a high quality development

When you look at the utter garbage tower they are building at New City Road you have to wonder why this didn’t get planning
#10 Posted by Billy on 24 Feb 2021 at 15:36 PM
Incredible! The planners would rather have 4 storey rectangular boxes all over sour city. They need people who care about our city , it's image and skyline.Too long in the job and out of touch. Thought the aim was to double the population in the city centre within 20 years. Not going to happen with low builds and the snail pace of GCC. And what is happening with the Candleriggs site? About 20 years derelict now. Suspect the same will happen with India st. Meanwhile Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds our competitors move at lightning pace.
#11 Posted by Ham on 24 Feb 2021 at 15:42 PM
The scheme looks good, shame it was rejected.

A lot of Councillors are just random people with no relevant expertise in architecture or urban design, a lot of them have no expertise in anything at all, so it is a really strange system for them to make decision about things they don't know much about.

Councillor Alan Casey was a joiner and a drummer and Josephine Docherty doesn't even say what she was, hardly the expertise required to make such key decisions.
#12 Posted by Roddy_ on 24 Feb 2021 at 16:38 PM
I actually find it more worrying that council officers deem this appropriate when most folk instinctively know this is inappropriate in the context of the existing townscape.
Seriously questionable typology and townscape. It is understandable in light of the lack of a coded, coherent masterplan for the district.
Point blocks are inappropriate and a more linear, low-rise solution that actually addresses the immediate context and the edge of the canal would make much more spatial sense. No, instead we disperse, shrink away from the active edge of the canal and generally hide the active domain of the proposal.
I've absolutely no objection to towers in the right place. This is the right kind of development in the wrong location. The city really needs to get a grip of places like this, whose 'masterplans' are getting on for 20 years out of date (and which were never really adopted anyway),otherwise we get stuff like this, we get stuff like Yorkhill Quay. You do not need to be an expert in the built environment, an urbanist, planner or architect to instinctively know that the proposal is incongruous in its setting.
PS, it is the city centre population that is proposed to be doubled and not the ‘metropolitan population’.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#13 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 24 Feb 2021 at 22:06 PM
Not sure if this was just a ranging shot to find out the lie of the land -- Tower 1's protuberance looks like it might be long for this world.

Tough gig -- Spiers Wharf nimbys were always going to be a difficult crowd.

Lack of green space -- surely the canal is a linear park?

Then you have the issue that the Cedar Street multis are only 330m away.

Consequently it might just be mid ranking filler but it is filler that someone wants to build. What is the alternative and why has it not been built?

Really poor decision.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#14 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 24 Feb 2021 at 22:14 PM
The layout of the two blocks is crying out for some sort of cover / wintergarden structure between them to try and offer some social space with a bit of cover.

The usual reasons will be given by the usual suspects but we should put in more effort to deal with our climate.

90% coverage / partially open at the sides with some thought into what could be provided regarding the public realm -- might be worth some investigation.
Vicky Velvet
#15 Posted by Vicky Velvet on 25 Feb 2021 at 10:05 AM
This total aversion to high density living in bizarre, especially as this scheme looks high-spec.

There are many places in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore where million of people live in high density tall buildings without much issue.

Part of the reason high-density living here didn't seem to work is that they put unhygienic anti-social people like drug addicts into them and normal people didn't want to live there. Just don't put anti-social people into them.
#16 Posted by Tara on 25 Feb 2021 at 10:27 AM
There is no need to develop at this scale in Glasgow. There are many empty plots across the city and in Spiers Wharf. You need to let these develop too not stick all the demand in one block.
It is a really ugly building and this is NOT Hong Kong. It is Glasgow.

Don't buy in to what the UD panel say. They basically smooze up to any architect they see worthy rather than give a rounded response.
Cyril Sneer
#17 Posted by Cyril Sneer on 25 Feb 2021 at 10:39 AM
I notice there is an error in the CGI modelling though, one of the buildings just seems to be on top of the other building. Just pop it back down on the ground and the scheme will look great. Well done guys.
#18 Posted by Chris on 25 Feb 2021 at 10:59 AM
"this is NOT Hong Kong. It is Glasgow."

While I agree that a tall building isn't necessarily the best for this location, I do really hate this kind of comment.

Glasgow has been a high-rise city for a long time now, and it's time that we embrace that again. Glasgow may not be Hong Kong but it's not a genteel village either.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#19 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 25 Feb 2021 at 20:46 PM
Surely that are needs some level of density and vibrancy to bring it back to life?

The issue has to be that if someone is daft enough to invest in a project like this -- subject to some basic standards of habitability and design / no white render -- they should be allowed to get on and do it.

Pushing back on the "no bad" while waiting on the brilliant is not a great strategy to rely on.

As my long lost days at the dancing keep reminding me -- we need to keep it real.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#20 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 25 Feb 2021 at 20:51 PM
UR -- you need to up your game.
Re-glasgow -- they have more photos showing a lot more detail.

Just saying like ...
#21 Posted by UR on 26 Feb 2021 at 13:26 PM
@20 - The internet is certainly a competitive space. Great news for you though.
Nadine McCharles
#22 Posted by Nadine McCharles on 6 Mar 2021 at 19:31 PM
The developer should perhaps continue the waste use on the site. Why does a Council planning department approved scheme get rejected by some Councillors. Why are they rejecting such inward investment ?

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