Labour takes exception to timing in £400m deal

A £400 million revamp of a hub shopping district in Glasgow city centre has been given the go-ahead.

However, the Buchanan Quarter upgrade has met with claims that the SNP Government was “manipulating” the announcement to co-incide with the looming local government election campaign.

Plans include upgrading the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre, the nearby Royal Concert Hall, parts of George Square and Buchanan Street and improving access to Queen Street station.

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The council will fund the project through the tax incremental financing (TIF) scheme which see £80m in upfront investment and about £310m borrowed against future business rate income generated from the resulting development.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government has approved Glasgow City Council’s application for extending the Buchanan Galleries.

“We always felt this was the best approach for the city centre. It is good news for jobs, good news for shoppers and good news overall for Glasgow.”

The scheme is expected to create about 1500 jobs.

Infrastructure secretary Alex Neil, who approved the scheme, said it will “breathe new life” into the city.

“Not only will the Buchanan Quarter project unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of private investment and create hundreds of new jobs, it will also bring people flocking into the city centre to enjoy the new facilities,” he said.

However, a Glasgow Labour source said council officials were “kept in the dark” and only discovered the news in the local press.

“It is treating Glasgow with contempt,” the source added.

“The way it has been announced is a fairly transparent attempt to manipulate the news agenda in Glasgow to try and help the SNP’s council bid.”