Radical plans to rejuvenate Glasgow city centre

George Square in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
George Square in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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Plans to reconnect peripheral areas of Glasgow and “radically transform” the city centre have been launched by an independent commission.

The Glasgow Connectivity Commission is calling for action to bridge the connectivity gap separating thriving areas of the city from those suffering from transport isolation and lack of opportunity.

The report published on Thursday, the first of two, focuses largely on the city centre, as it said any improvements to connectivity must start there, “reaching out through the arteries into the regional economy”.

It includes proposals which would pave the way for the biggest reconstitution of the city centre streetscape in nearly half a century, giving greater priority to pedestrians and allowing for the creation of public spaces “worthy of a great European city”.

Proposals include greater use of car parks and bus terminals in order to reduce the number of vehicles in the city centre, and speeding up and expanding the Avenues project to improve streetscapes.

The commission also urges Glasgow City Council to press ahead with plans to build a roof over the M8 at Charing Cross, creating a new pedestrian space outside the Mitchell Library.

Transport expert Professor David Begg, who chaired the commission, said: “Glasgow is a great European city and the economic powerhouse of Scotland. But not all of its citizens are connected to the opportunities the city provides - which is placing a barrier on its growth potential.

“And its streets, particularly in the city centre, do not offer an experience worthy of a great European city, the consequence of decades of planning decisions which have prioritised car use over pedestrians and denuded its public spaces.

“The recommendations included in this report offer an opportunity to radically transform Glasgow’s city centre - ensuring it becomes an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest - while better connecting all its citizens so as to deliver inclusive growth.”

The commission also said that Glasgow needs better buses if it is to grow and prosper, noting that people from socioeconomically deprived areas tend to depend more on bus services.

It calls for bus priority measures and service improvements to reverse the decline in customers and drive 25 per cent passenger growth over five years.