St Enoch Centre demolition plan recommended for approval

The plans would transform the St Enoch Centre
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A bid to demolish the St Enoch Centre to make way for a major new development has been recommended for approval, as council planners believe it presents a “significant opportunity”.

Developers, Sovereign Centros, want to knock down the shopping centre and create new buildings across nine blocks, with a mix of homes, offices, retail space and a hotel. The project will go before Glasgow’s planning committee on Tuesday and council officials believe councillors should approve the application. In a report, they said the “potential transformational benefits” to the city centre “cannot be underestimated”.

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Demolition would take place over four phases, with key buildings retained. These are the A-listed Buck’s Head building, the B-listed former Debenhams and unlisted properties at 135-255 Argyle Street. Plans stated the “repurposing can be delivered in a phased way that maintains some income and more importantly some vitality in the city centre.”

As the application is for planning permission in principle, more detailed proposals would need future approval before work can begin. This will maintain “flexibility” for the site, allowing the project to “respond to future demands and market trends”, the developers said. A masterplan stated the redevelopment will provide “up to 2.5million square foot of floor space”, while an “indicative” breakdown showed there could be 160 hotel rooms and 802 flats.

Sovereign Centros is seeking a 20-year planning consent, however council officials have reported “given the potential for policy change throughout this period, 10 years is considered to be appropriate. The application represents a significant opportunity to repair part of the city centre that currently exists as a mainly inward facing block with little engagement or connectivity to surrounding streets,” the council report stated. “Despite the extent of demolition proposed, the potential transformational benefits to the city centre in terms of re-population, placemaking, sustainability, air quality, biodiversity and health and wellbeing from the development, cannot be underestimated. It is therefore essential that the next stages in the planning process ensure a level of commitment and attention to detail to ensure the highest quality of outcome.”

The plans, submitted by the developers, stated it is “difficult to develop the existing building in a way that will significantly improve the area and its surroundings”, adding the centre is “not a valued or important structure in the local community.”

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The application continued: “Driven by issues of sustainability, retail and consumer trends and local and national policy, the proposed development is a significant re-imagination of the St. Enoch Centre to become a sustainable, mixed-use development in the heart of Glasgow city centre.”

It is hoped the development would re-establish St Enoch Square as “a focal hub within the city”, making it a “place where people will want to dwell”, and provide a “leisure hub”, supporting “vibrant daytime and night time economies”.

Last year, Sovereign Centros received permission to transform the former Debenhams store on Argyle Street into offices with a rooftop restaurant, which the company said would safeguard the future of the building.

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