Finnieston flats plan approved despite almost 300 objections

Plans to build “new tenements” with over 130 flats and six shops in Finnieston have been approved despite almost 300 objections.

AR (Finnieston) Ltd, part of Scottish development and investment firm Ambassador Group, has secured permission to build on a Lidl car park.

The demolition of a former PC World building is also included in the application, to provide a new car park for Lidl.

However, 292 people, including two local councillors, objected to the development, which they believe will be too large, over dominate surrounding buildings and lead to a loss of sunlight.

The flats plan for Finnieston.
The flats plan for Finnieston.
The flats plan for Finnieston.

There are also concerns over the lack of open space and inadequate car parking, with only 33 spaces for 132 flats.

Despite this planning officials recommended the scheme could go ahead and, after a site visit, councillors decided to approve the application. The developers will have to pay just over £97,500 to the council to compensate for the lack of open space provided.

The site, at the junction of Finnieston Street and Minerva Street, is at the gateway to the St Vincent conservation area. Designs have been changed during the planning process, with one storey removed from the building.

Buildings will start at six storeys on Minerva Street before rising up to eight storeys on the corner at the Argyle Street junction then dropping to seven on Finnieston Street.

Bailie Christy Mearns, who represents the Anderston/City/Yorkhill ward, which includes Finnieston, said: “Despite the changes, the proposal still significantly dominates the area and surrounding listed buildings, which does significantly affect the character of the St Vincent conservation area.

“Any development on this site must be sympathetic to existing architectural character. In my view, and in the view of many hundreds of objectors, including the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, this has not been demonstrated.”

Cllr Angus Millar, who also represents the ward, said he was concerned the height of the development could “detract from the setting and the character of the conservation area”.

Two objectors, Sadie Hale and Caroline Smart, voiced their concerns at the planning hearing. Ms Smart said: “What we aren’t happy with is the height, if they replicated the height of the previous tenement and the corner was much more sympathetic, and of the same height to the entrance gateway to the conservation area, that would be fine.”

However, Alastair Wood, representing AR (Finnieston) Ltd, said the firm had spent three years discussing the proposals with planning officials and had removed “a whole storey”. It has set the development “back to the line of the existing car park to retain the trees on Minerva Street rather than planting a new avenue of trees”, he added.

Mr Wood said ground floor shops will provide “an active street frontage” and the development will “be one of the first in Glasgow to have homes heated by individual domestic scale internal air source heat pumps”.

“Glasgow needs more homes and more people,” he said. “Development which repairs the urban fabric, respects its setting, provides new tenements in the 21st century as the city recovers and transitions towards a net-zero future should be welcomed.”

Before the committee approved the plan, Cllr Patricia Ferguson said: “I have long thought that we should actually develop that corner and that we needed to do that in order to help protect the view of Minerva Street.

“But I would have hoped that the building would have been a bit more sympathetic in terms of its scale and massing than it seems to be.”

Cllr Thomas Kerr said: “At the end of the day we are facing a housing crisis in the city and although this is on the side of a conservation area, it is not in the conservation area itself.

“I’m of the view that while the height does worry me slightly, I’d rather we build up than build out.”

Cllr Paul Leinster said he had sympathy with the concerns raised but the plans are “of a much higher quality than a lot of existing more modern things that have been built around it”, including the Skypark, which he said was a “silver clad eyesore”.