George Square redesign scrapped after public opposition

Plans to radically overhaul George Square in a �15 million international design project have been scrapped
Plans to radically overhaul George Square in a �15 million international design project have been scrapped
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PLANS to radically overhaul Glasgow’s George Square in a £15 million international design project have been scrapped in the face of widespread public opposition.

The area will instead be given a “substantial facelift”, city council leader Gordon Matheson said yesterday.

The design competition to completely revamp the square was announced by the council last year, attracting 35 entries from around the globe.

The council confirmed yesterday that they had chosen a winner – John McAslan and Partners – but would not be proceeding with the contract.

The design had included proposals for the creation of an “Urban Tableau”, featuring

perimeter tree planting, relocated monuments, fountains and pop-up cafes to “optimise the event space”.

More than 4,000 people signed an online petition calling for a halt to the plans and for the space to be “restored to its former grassy glory”. Full details of the changes are yet to be announced, but the 13 statues and grassed areas currently in the square will remain, with the red tarmac ground replaced.

Mr Matheson said that the people of Glasgow “have made it clear that they do not want a radical redesign of the square”.

He added: “They want the square to look better and be a place of which they can be proud – a place they can while away a sunny afternoon, or get together and celebrate the big occasions in the life of the city.

“They also want us to keep the statues where they are and they like the grass. However, they clearly want rid of the red tarmac.

“I am proud to say that I am listening to them.

“We will carry out this refurbishment work in time for the Commonwealth Games and only if there is public demand thereafter will we consider a radical change.

“The companies which were asked to produce designs gave us stunning plans, any one of which would have looked fantastic, and I would like to thank the architectural firms involved for their time and hard work. I also want to thank the members of the jury.”

The six shortlisted designs have been on display at The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, for several weeks. Members of the public were invited to register their opinions and suggestions.

David Meikle, the city’s sole Conservative councillor, welcomed the decision and credited people power for overturning the proposals.

“I’m delighted that the council has seen sense and listened to the public. The whole thing has been a farce from the beginning with the poor consultation, the poor designs and the inadequate process for deciding the winner.

“It’s even laughable that the council announced the winner, then said they were going to scrap it. It’s what the people have been calling for in the first place, and they’ve wasted, as far as we know, £90,000 of public money on what seems to be some sort of personal ego trip for Gordon Matheson.”