Council report says Buchanan Street needs more food and drink venues

Buchanan Street needs more food and drink venues as feedback has revealed it can feel “unsafe” and “dead” at night, a meeting heard.
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A council report looking into the future of the street alongside Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street has put forward options to give a boost to the three core shopping areas, which are more than 150-years-old.

Dubbed ‘a vision and plan for the Golden Z’ project, a report has suggested a new park for Sauchiehall Street and that Argyle Street station could be opened up for improvement among areas of focus.

Council head of planning Sarah Shaw revealed stakeholder feedback revealed the importance of introducing some “non retail food and drink uses” on Buchanan Street, which would provide activity in the evening when shops close.

She said: “One of the strong themes coming through was people felt the street felt a little unsafe at night as it is quite dead with very few late night uses on the street.”

Ms Shaw said there is also support for a “cultural quarter” focused around Sauchiehall Street.

Speaking at the economy, housing, transport and regeneration city policy committee, she said stong messages from extensive stakeholder engagement highlight the need to diversity uses beyond retail to generate footfall at different times of the days.

The feedback has also revealed the need for a larger residential population and more greenspace. During the meeting councillor Martha Wardrop asked for more details on plans while councillor Soryia Siddique appealed for evidence of the economic impact.

Councillor Saqib Ahmed, Labour, said: “The Golden Z is very important to Glasgow. For any city to thrive we need a booming city centre. We don’t want to be known as a ghost town.”

He said the majority of shops were closing and raised issues over taxi drivers not having time to be able to comply with the low emission zone.

Transport convenor SNP councillor Angus Millar said exemptions have been made available for taxi drivers and the claim that the majority of shops are closed is “inaccurate.”

He said changes in the retail sector are not exclusive to Glasgow.

Councillor Siddique, Labour, asked if an economic impact assessment had been carried out on the Golden Z paper proposals and questioned the financing of projects.

Ms Shaw said: “The report has laid out a series of recommendations about delivery but each one of those hasn’t had a final economic impact assessment carried out. That would be a huge piece of work.”

Another officer said: “There is no question than investor confidence in Glasgow is strong and growing.”

The meeting heard there is private sector interest in being involved in projects.

Committee chair Scottish Greens councillor Wardrop said: “There is obviously more information needed in terms of jobs and the financing of it all. But I think the idea is to protect the local economy and help it thrive and recover.”

SNP councillor Eva Bolander said: “I’m glad to see we are prioritising living in the city centre.”

She welcomed the idea of a new green space in Sauchiehall Street.

Councillor Wardrop pointed out the paper presented to the committee was “just a summary report” and “quite a lot of information is still needed.”

She said: “For me it is one of the most important documents I have seen for a long time.

She added: “We are at the point of redefining Buchanan Street. There are big changes.”

Councillor Millar said there will be a further engagement session with stakeholders and he is happy for it to come back to the committee before going to the city administration committee for approval.

Councillor Wardrop said she would like a proper briefing session with the full report and wants it widely shared for comment.

It was agreed a final document would be presented to the committee again after the summer before going to the city administration committee.

Speaking after the meeting councillor Siddique added: “How can the council seriously embark on trying to regenerate key parts of the city centre with proposals which have not been the subject of an economic impact assessment.”

Dr Siddique added: “I think they’re right to focus on the three areas of the Z but the proposals are not very specific and don’t give any indication of how they could be funded or how they could be sustainable. If they’re relying on the private sector given that the market has already dictated abandoning these parts of the city centre, what will bring them back?”

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