Glasgow avenues programme under review due to inflation

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The transformation of some city centre streets, including new cycle lanes, is “on hold” while a £115million project is reviewed due to “hyper-inflation”.

Glasgow’s Avenues programme is under review as “current market conditions” in the construction sector are putting pressure on project budgets.

The aim of the scheme, which receives funding from both the UK and Scottish Governments and was boosted by an extra £23m from charity Sustrans, is to introduce a “network of pedestrian and cycle priority routes”. It is also expected to make streets more attractive, with trees, rain gardens and improved lighting.

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Areas where plans are currently under review include Cathedral Street, Elmbank Street/Elmbank Crescent, Glassford Street, on “the periphery of George Square”, Hope Street and in the International Financial Services District.

However, council officials reported issues have “largely been overcome” and council leader Susan Aitken, SNP, said there has “been a step change in the pace of delivery in recent months”.

In an update to councillors, officials said there was “an adverse impact” on the delivery of the project between 2019 and 2021 due to “recent world events”. They added work on the Avenues has been “significantly impacted by issues associated with Brexit, Covid-19 and the crisis in Ukraine”, with high inflation “continuing to impact the construction sector”. 

The report stated issues have “largely been overcome with design and construction activity progressing at pace”, but admitted some challenges “due to high levels of inflation persist” and are being “factored into the delivery programme”.

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Due to market conditions, the programme is “currently being reviewed” as part of a wider look at the full City Deal infrastructure investment programme. It is expected to be complete by spring next year.  

A council spokesman said, like “all public sector bodies”, it is “having to respond to the ongoing challenges of hyper-inflation within the construction sector”.

He added: “We are having to continually monitor and review all of the City Deal projects — based on the parameters of affordability and deliverability — to ensure that the overall programme can continue to be progressed and contained within the limits of the city’s approved £385.91million City Deal grant funding allocation.”

The Glasgow City Region City Deal is an infrastructure programme funded by the UK and Scottish Governments, which covers eight council areas. Under the scheme, improvements at Sauchiehall Avenue, between Charing Cross and Rose Street, were completed in 2019 while on-site work began on Holland Street Avenue and the Sauchiehall Precinct this year.

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The progress report also revealed Argyle Street West is currently out to tender to secure a contractor, with work due to start in late spring 2024, while Argyle Street East is in the detailed design stage, and a construction contractor will be sought early next year.

Designs for Dixon Street and St Enoch Square will be completed, but tendering “will likely be delayed”. North Hanover Street and Kyle Street are nearing the end of the design stage, and tendering is planned for early 2024.

The Holland Street/Pitt Street project should be completed by July next year while design work at Stockwell Street is underway. Concept layouts for Broomielaw/Clyde Street are set to go out to public consultation before the end of the year. High Street plans are “at an early stage”.

A planning application for work at George Square was recently submitted and a report will be produced on “the cost and scope of works required to the statues”. 

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Concept designs have been completed for the Sustrans-funded Avenues Plus programme, which includes South Portland Street, Dobbie’s Loan, Duke Street, John Knox Street and Cowcaddens Road. Work on these projects will continue in 2024, with construction tender packages expected.

Cllr Aitken said: “There has been a step change in the pace of delivery in recent months with the Avenues and Avenues Plus programmes on-site and delivering projects, and this momentum will continue to increase in the coming years.

“These programmes will help change the city centre as part of the significant transformation which it will undergo in the short and medium-term, becoming a more attractive, healthier and better-connected area.”

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