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Giant apartment complex to tower over Charing Cross

August 12 2021

Giant apartment complex to tower over Charing Cross

Watkin Jones Group has submitted plans for the tallest building in Glasgow as part of a complex of 685 apartments adjacent to Charing Cross Station.

The mixed co-living and build to rent complex will rise on the site of the former Portcullis House on India Street, with 279 rental properties to the north and 406 studio rooms in a 17 storey tower to the south adjacent to Scottish Power.

Embracing low and zero-carbon technologies such as heat pumps and low energy lighting with no on-site parking for residents offered. Instead, the priority will be to facilitate new retail, food and drink, office and leisure options in a high amenity location. A booking system will also be put in place for members of the public to gain access to the top floor of the main tower, where a community space will offer vertiginous views of the city.

Iain Smith, planning director for Watkin Jones Group said: “The design of our proposed homes will help to keep skilled young people in the city who will boost Glasgow’s economy. These people are actively looking for a sustainable and desirable place to live in a central location with excellent transport links and places to shop or socialise. This will repopulate the city centre and benefit local businesses as part of an overall renewal of the west end.

“Build to rent and co-living developments are built for the long-term, so our focus is on creating a great place to live for decades with high-quality rented accommodation at competitive prices that appeal to a wide-range of people. There is a huge demand in Glasgow for these homes, which offers long-term security of tenure, combined with the flexibility of renting."

Hawkins Brown is serving as architect on the scheme which will be crucial in meeting Glasgow City Council's City Centre Living Strategy to double the resident population to 40,000 over the next 15 years. 

 A 33-storey tower on elevated ground will dominate the city centre
A 33-storey tower on elevated ground will dominate the city centre
685 homes are destined for the former Portcullis House
685 homes are destined for the former Portcullis House

A bar and terrace will allow tenants to drink up the city views
A bar and terrace will allow tenants to drink up the city views
A communal kitchen permits socialising and cooking in one airy space
A communal kitchen permits socialising and cooking in one airy space

Facades of the main tower respond to the dominant red sandstone of the city's tenements
Facades of the main tower respond to the dominant red sandstone of the city's tenements
Facilities such as this lounge will be on offer to co-living tenants
Facilities such as this lounge will be on offer to co-living tenants


G Man
#1 Posted by G Man on 12 Aug 2021 at 11:09 AM
So, a development proposal facing Speirs Wharf was rejected as it echoed the high-rises of the Gorbals even though there is no comparison between then and now and the Speirs Wharf development is far superior to the waste of money to build those towers 50-60 years ago. Just wondering what the councillor's thoughts are regarding this proposal..
#2 Posted by Chris on 12 Aug 2021 at 11:35 AM
They rejected the Speirs Wharf proposal because the height was considered out of scale with the location.

The height isn't the issue with this proposal (tall buildings are well suited for the city centre). The issue is the awful design.
rm kartoffell
#3 Posted by rm kartoffell on 12 Aug 2021 at 12:01 PM
red eyesore reminiscent of stacked and discarded shipping containers. insipid and uninspired; a faithless box without a spire. soulless.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#4 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 12 Aug 2021 at 12:03 PM
Not quite getting the vibe on this -- it looks like it has been designed for ex students who just can't give up the lifestyle.

Shared kitchen -- does that mean that the studios will have no cooking facilities in the rooms themselves / where do you eat your scran once you have cooked it?

And then you have the timing element -- post pandemic living is all going to be about fresh air and space.

Can you work from home if you live in a rabbit hutch?

No space for cars when the desire for public transport has taken a nose dive -- living your whole life in Charing Cross will not be for everyone.

#5 Posted by Pleasantfield on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:10 PM
Height is the issue as well as the boring design. This is not New York with a competition for tbe highest building( or greatest return). It is totally out of scale with almost every adjacent building. Refusal please, planning committee.
#6 Posted by Pleasantfield on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:14 PM
Just had a thought......if this gets the go ahead why not get them to pay for roofing in the M8 to Charing cross. It will be in their marketing interests if nothing else and would be a nice green space to help offset the building. With that number of flats they can surely afford it.
#7 Posted by Chris on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:31 PM
I don’t think height is the issue at all. There are numerous high rise buildings in the vicinity already.

Glasgow is not Edinburgh.
#8 Posted by Chris on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:33 PM
Similar projects in other cities costed billions. If the M8 is to be covered over it (and it should) will take government intervention.
town planner
#9 Posted by town planner on 12 Aug 2021 at 14:39 PM
#5 You're right this is not New York, 33 stories is nothing over there, with most of their biggest skyscrapers 80-100+ floors.

Location-wise next to the M8 this is exactly the right location for a bit more elevation.

#5 To your second point, good idea, and no harm in asking for a contribution to roofing over the M8!
Jimbob Tanktop
#10 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 12 Aug 2021 at 16:52 PM
Shared kitchens? Is this a giant Air BnB? I would actually be in favour of that as a solution to short term lets rather than having them in random places with all of the negative consequences for permanent residents nearby. Design-wise it's a bit meh, but I welcome the height.
#11 Posted by Shytegeist on 12 Aug 2021 at 17:20 PM
#10 It's a serviced alternative to an HMO flat for urban twentysomethings.

Nice to see a bit more variety in scale on the skyline, shame it's coming from something as bland and soulless as this. Beats the dingy remnant of the Strathclyde Council building that's there now, though.
#12 Posted by spike on 12 Aug 2021 at 17:47 PM
I guess this will last 20/30 years at most then there will be an application to demolish it and replace with yet another building. What a waste of resources that would be as well as the embodied energy. If it does go ahead please ensure the design is as flexible as possible so other uses can be considered.
Paul North
#13 Posted by Paul North on 13 Aug 2021 at 03:05 AM
Gerritbuilt, as a precursor to further height into the city bulking up Charing cross as a high rise cluster in the city centre to take your eye away from the M8 scar it is exactly the right idea for this part of the city
Whispering Andy
#14 Posted by Whispering Andy on 13 Aug 2021 at 09:45 AM
Whisper it.....but in a climate crisis like this they should plant an orchard on that site.
#15 Posted by EM0 on 13 Aug 2021 at 10:13 AM
I agree with whispering Andy, fill all of the gap sites with planting and turn Glasgow into a garden city like Copenhagen!
#16 Posted by BNBEAT on 13 Aug 2021 at 10:52 AM
Right, who's nicked my yoghurt?! I left almost a full tub in that fridge!
Ray Campbell Lupton
#17 Posted by Ray Campbell Lupton on 13 Aug 2021 at 11:13 AM
Hong Kong living cubicles.
#18 Posted by Roddy_ on 13 Aug 2021 at 14:18 PM
If you’re going invoke the local distinctiveness of the city’s red sandstone tenements ,perhaps design something with local distinctiveness rather than this anonymous- could be anywhere- proposal. Glasgow of 2021 looking a bit like Manchester or Leeds or Sheffield of 15 or 16 years ago.
India Street and Elmbank Crescent will need some serious thought as to how to make them more pedestrian friendly with 400 cars from Charing X car park and another 100 or so from the basement of Scottish Power using them daily and the junction at Newton St a particularly horrible one.
Will be interesting to see how the proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge across to the Mitchell – part of the Sauchiehall Garnethill Framework- will integrate with any public realm works as well as the mooted improvements to Charing X train Station.
Callum Martin
#19 Posted by Callum Martin on 14 Aug 2021 at 03:29 AM
This area of Glasgow is well suited for taller building of this height and scale in order to densify the city centre. This isn't meant for families but for younger people who either live alone or with their partners. There's a huge market for it everywhere else so why not Glasgow? If people want a house with a garden then move out of the city centre and into thw urban sprawl around. But in a city like ours, you have parks, communal areas amd the big river to keep you happy. As many people have pointed out Glasgow isn't Edinburgh. And it isn't like it was 50 to 60 years ago. Buildings nowadays are much better designed for this. If cites like Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool can manage it then so can Glasgow and help bring a bit of distinctive height ranges to the rather boring M8 that batters through that part of the city.
Callum Martin
#20 Posted by Callum Martin on 14 Aug 2021 at 03:34 AM
If cites like Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool can manage a building of this scale I'm sure Glasgow can too. There's a huge demand for building of this sector. And I'm happy to finally see Glasgow on this rise.
#21 Posted by Billy on 14 Aug 2021 at 09:36 AM
Anything better than what's there just now. And nice to see a bit of height. When will Glasgow ever see its first 40 storey build? That would be a landmark building.
#22 Posted by Gordon on 16 Aug 2021 at 11:14 AM
#20...Manchester , now often referred to as Manchattan has been's Anywheresville but done very badly. Liverpool's unthinking development race has diminished its world heritage status and the city centre Leeds high rises are an utter mess...the notion of townscape long abandoned there. Glasgow still has a special quality, but it will be lost if this current maverick and reckless development trend continues. It's really not architecture to be proud of!
#23 Posted by RankieLass on 16 Aug 2021 at 12:11 PM
Can't believe that most comments on this are mainly about the height and colour of the blocks rather than the prospect of 406 people all sharing communal kitchen and dining spaces. Fat Bloke I'm not sure its a choice that "ex-students" can't "give up" the lifestyle. The communal kitchen has worked well in Edinburgh University's Holyrood scheme but this is a highly managed environment with most living there for the duration of their Master's course not as their home for the foreseeable. Workers hutches are not homes.
#24 Posted by ACH on 16 Aug 2021 at 13:50 PM
#23 Completely agree. There's a lot of merit in the co-living movement, but the key to it is community. Large-scale, shiny developments like this feel like they're taking advantage of the Zeitgeist to cram more people into the same amount of space.

I'm very curious to see the flats themselves and prices - I wonder how much the cost per square metre is when you divide up the communal spaces with how many people are sharing them?
#25 Posted by Roddy_ on 16 Aug 2021 at 19:35 PM
Looks like a polychrome version of Altus House. Discarded fridge? Fish tanks made of graph paper? Not much to distinguish this from Candleriggs, Buchanan Wharf or Moda - is everyone copying out of everyone else's jotters or is it the herd mentality of developers and designers? In others words - if one terrible scheme gets consented - why diverge from that paradigm?
#26 Posted by George on 17 Aug 2021 at 07:05 AM
I dont see a problem with the height, this should be welcomed and we need more city centre population so that the economy is not reliant on the passing trade of office workers.
However I do have an issue with the design and exterior materials, this looks terrible! Being on such a prominent site this will showcase Glasgow and that red panelling just looks awful. Come on, lets improve the design and materials here or this will set a new low bar for all other such developments.
#27 Posted by E=mc2 on 19 Aug 2021 at 13:15 PM
WTF. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo !!
Looks like an extruded version of the Stallan Brand scheme in the Merchant City
John V
#28 Posted by John V on 21 Oct 2022 at 03:44 AM
The height and scale fit in with the plans for GCC go increase the city centre pop. I think in this area it will serve as a gateway building but can we please sort the design out? Looks like the bloody red row flats!

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