Decision to be made by Glasgow City Council over controversial Merchant City

The flats, proposed to be built at a car park, raised over 140 objections
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A decision is set to be made on controversial plans to build over 100 flats on a Merchant City car park.

Council officials have recommended Artisan Real Estate’s bid to develop the Ingram Street site should be approved — but more than 140 objections were raised.

Residents and community representatives are concerned about overshadowing of neighbouring flats, the loss of 20 trees and the impact on nearby listed buildings.

Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure venues for the council, said it is “vital” that “sufficiently robust acoustic design” is considered so the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket are “not adversely affected by complaints from future residents”.

Merchant City and Trongate Community Council wants the site to be turned into a park.

Councillors decided to delay making a decision to allow for a visit to the site and a hearing when they met in November. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday [February 7].

Owners, City Property, marketed the land in 2021 and Artisan was selected as the preferred developer. The firm plans to build 109 apartments across a seven-storey development, with a courtyard, which would be accessible to the public, and a roof terrace.

It would “step up incrementally from City Halls and the Old Fruitmarket” and commercial space, either for retail, food and drink or business use, would be available on the ground floor.

Artisan said the proposal will “revitalise an under-utilised former car park which sits in a prime location within the Merchant City” and provide “much-needed homes for sale”.

In total, 143 objections were received by the council, including from Bailie Christy Mearns, Merchant City and Trongate Community Council and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. Three letters of support were submitted.

Bailie Mearns’ objection said there is “not adequate detail on the noise mitigation measures” to protect neighbouring venues from “the possibility of closure in the event of complaints arising from future residents”.

Council officials insist “appropriate safeguarding conditions” have been included and a noise impact assessment has been “reviewed” and “accepted”.

Iain Wotherspoon, from the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, said the society was “particularly concerned about the scale and massing of the proposals” which would “dominate” surrounding listed buildings.

The community council objected to the removal of the trees, the impact on the “character and history” of the area and loss of “natural light and privacy” for nearby residents.

It also opposed the loss of a mural on the back wall of the car park, which “is the jewel in the crown of Glasgow City Council’s incredibly successful mural trail”. The developers have said the “substantial retention” of the mural is “key” to development of the public courtyard.

Bailie Mearns added the loss of open space is “unacceptable” and there are “many empty homes and vacant buildings which should be prioritised for housing before this land”.

Council officials reported the layout of the development would “maximise residential amenity and daylight” and the number of storeys are “not considered to be excessive”, with the “stepped form of the building” helping to prevent “an overly dominant presence”.

The flats are proposed to be built on a car park - although objections were raised regarding nearby listed buildingsThe flats are proposed to be built on a car park - although objections were raised regarding nearby listed buildings
The flats are proposed to be built on a car park - although objections were raised regarding nearby listed buildings

They believe the proposal would “contribute towards the council’s aim of repopulating the city centre”. Artisan would be required to pay £110,000 due to the lack of children’s play and outdoor sport areas.

Officials said a “small area” of the existing mural would be lost but the majority would be preserved. Artisan said the mural “will be fully visible from seating areas within the courtyard”.

Planning staff added the use of the site has “environmental drawbacks” and “encourages car-use”, with the trees “planted in the past to screen the poor environmental condition of the car park to pedestrians”.

Previous plans for a hotel and other uses were withdrawn in 2018 while, in 2008, a proposal for a 200-bed hotel was granted.