Summary Of Public Meeting Held on 14 April 2015 re Proposed Development

Summary of Public Meeting of Merchant City and Trongate Community Council on 14 April 2015

Around 70 local residents attended the meeting which was to discuss a planning application on the site referred to locally as “The Selfridges Site”, and may be better recalled as the site of the former Goldbergs store.  The site is almost a rectangle stretching from Candleriggs/ Trongate in the south east to Candleriggs/ Bell Street in the North East; to Hutcheson Street / Wilson Street in the North West and, to Hutcheson Street / Trongate in the South West.

The team from the developers included:

Mike Myles Development Manager, Mace

Shahid Ali, Director of JLL Planning Consultants

Sonia Price and Bill Black from the Architects


Mr Black took us through a number of slides which included artists’ impressions of various elevations and sketches of the completed buildings in the context of existing building.

The list of local residents included Sandra White MSP and was supplemented with members of the press.


The development team lead with an impressive presentation which showed arial views of the proposed development and impressions of the elevations at various points.  There was detail about the mixed use development which is intended to accommodate 597 student flats, 377 Private Sector Rental flats, 124 room hotel and 135 flats for sale.  This is to be within 17 storey buildings with an open courtyard with bars and restaurants, additional new retail will feature at ground level.

A number of questions were asked including:

The scale of the building?  At the highest points this will be 17 storeys and at the lowest level would be 5 storeys

The reason for the new building being further forward on Wilson Street east of Brunswick St. Traditionally buildings narrowed and widened and the proposed plan replicated this pattern

Why was the choice of buff outer cladding rath er then the provaling red sandstone? It was stated that red was more difficult to source and that buff or blond was not entirely uncommon within the area.


What was the height difference between the proposed 17 storeies and current 5 or 6 storey in place?  The new building will have a”floor to floor height”height of 3 meters whereas existing building could have 4meters for the same measure.   


After the developer’s presentation MCTCC Chair Tam Coyle updated the floor with who had been specifically invited to the meeting, this was stated as the following with the reply received:


Position Name Response
Local MP Anas Sarwar None received
Local MSP Sandra White In attendance
Elected Councillor Councillor Baker Recovering from Illness
Elected Councillor Baillie Braat Apologies Attending  arranged surgery
Elected Councillor Councillor Mathieson No response
Elected Councillor Councillor Doherty Apologies via Sandra White
Head of DRS   Apologies
Depute Head of DRS   Apologies
Depute head of planning   Out of office till 14/4/15
head of planning   No response


The heads of DRS department of regeneration services both sent apologies. The chair expressed some disappointment that no one from planning was present as there was an additional sutdent accomodation proposed for Miller Street.

Questions from the floor

Sandra White asked for clarification that some 1246 bed spaces were intended and the additional resources were required including car parking. Shahid pointed to the existing commercial car parks and said there would be up to 50 car parking spaces. The developers suggested that due to the central nature of the proposal, people did not need cars.

A question from the floor asked for clarification that the hotel would have no dedicated parking.

The developers said that 124 keys of the hotel would not need cars.

It was pointed out that many residents although not using it daily, owned a car. A show of hands indicated that most of the audience around 75% already had a car.

The developers countered that as elsewhere in the country car clubs could be introduced. Many retorted that car club availabilty was already in place.

The developers said it was not unusual that hotels would tap into existing commercial car parks. Oneresident explained that this would put added pressure on current commercial car park provision and that they were paying over £110 per month in car park charges.

A resident asked if there was concrete interest from a hotel operator as an existing space had been earmarked for a hotel in Ingram St, has been used a carpark for several years.

The developers stated they had engaged with a number of key brands and there was an interest from hotels who were interested in franchising.  Interest was stronger than a whim.

There was concern from the floor that it was unlikely to be a high end hotel.

From the floor it was asked if the scheme was fully funded or speculitive and was an operator in place for the rented flats and student accommodation? Further questions were asked about time scales of each stage and if the developers might look to approach “picture house” a subsiduary of Cineworld who run smaller cineamas. This was offered as an alternative to more pubs and as an alternative to the proloferation of empty ground floor units in the area.

The developers suggested that a GP’s surgery would be an option within the existing application as it was all “Class 1” and that it would restrict any new pubs to operate with earlier closing than currently is the case

Mike spoke about the experience and funding within Mace. RBS are lined up to continue funding this project. Mace may choose to either sell off the student site OR run it themself. The time scale was in the control of Glasgow City Council, with demolition by year end and constuction early in 2016.

From the floor a question was asked about the management of the proposed night clubs regarding the hours of operation, which it was said would not open through to 3 am and the implication that this would be in the conditions of the lease of such units bt The Developer.

The chair mentioned that a GP’s surgery reuired a population of 5000, and that the proposal would increase the population to beyond that figure.

A question asked about the question of personal secirity and if this was central to the design. The response was that the proposed central square would eliminate dark corners and that security comes from the volume of people populating an area.

Another point from the floor mentioned issues from anti social behaviour neighbouring students and the problem of noise generated by pubs and clubs and asked questions of the open nature of proposed development.  The resident said plainly that “they didn’t fancy living close to 600 students”.

The response from the developers was that Police Scotland were supportive and that the development would bring about improved behaviour by thoes in the area and would be enhansed by “manning during the night”.  They stated that they believed their development would “drag quality retail into the area” and that the development would address many of the existing problems.


Bob Cochrane’s presentation articulated some the concerns of local residents. They included:

That this was a layman’s approach but backed up with research.

There is a strictly limited number of grounds for objecting to any planning proposal.  These were listed

There was a comparison between the machinary of the application which included planning consultants, experienced business professionals and the apparent inefficies or disorganisation of the City Council and spare time enthusasistic amateur ststus of the local residents. It went on to list the inaccurate boundaries as described in the neighbour notification documentation, the request for objections to be submitted before the Community Council’s nect shedualed meeting and the poor response from the City’s officials.  This was characterised as “David versus Goliath”.  After this brief introduction the applicatnts said they were moved to leave the room as they did not recognise this image.  It was only when a resident suggested that the body of the meeting would reach their own conclusion if the developers left.



The presentation went on to suggest there were 5 particular objection that may be raised. These are:

Detrimental Impact on residential amenities and the visual impact.

14 Storeys represented an 88% increase of the current maximum height of neighbouring buildings.  17 Storeys meant more than doubling the number of nearby floors

The proposal would see the removal of a much loved historic landmark in Brunswick Lane, the birthplace of John MacDonald, Canada’s 1st Prime Minister.

The Council’s own policies contained in DES 3 refers to “New developments must respect the historic context and have regard for the historic plans for the area” and “protect significant views into and out of the area”


The council says…”emerging residential character…accorded a level of amenity protection.  Other parts of City Centre may provide individual opportunities”


The impact on the character of an area.

The council’s document Planning Policy Guidance for Student and Certain Other Large Scale Quasi Residential Uses 3rd March 2011 states

Proposals often involve high density accommodation with little in the way of supporting on site amenity…

Such acc which fails to meet the reasonable needs of ‘resident ‘populations or

Mitigate the additional pressure that such high resident population can have on local amenity / facilities

Will generally not be supported by the council


Loss of privacy and overlooking – Overshadowing/loss of light, height… properties suddenly overlooked, loss of light.

Existing property maximum height 7 or 8 storeys…proposed 14 storeys will dwarf current flats.


DES 11    Tall Buildings to avoid interruption of strategic views or competition with views of established landmarks and other significant or prominent listed buildings

Previous ‘penthouse’ flats commanded premium prices.

Being in the Southern Central area of Merchant City, this mountainous construction casts shadow over East, North & West of a light deprived area.



Relevant council planning policy

The city’s strategic plan call for new built property.  It appears that the proposed site is some way in excess of what is already in place

  • The City’s strategic plan…increased housing no mention of student accommodation, proliferation of student accommodation.
  • “facilitate the building of 3500 homes”
Summary Units Started Units Complete SG Funding
N West 1122 1746 67.4
N East 1614 1886 84.8
South 1652 1658 99.4
GHA 1361 1795 55.5
TOTAL 5479 7085 307.2





The impact on the character of an area, availability of infrastructure, density, over-development

  • The City’s strategic plan…increased housing no mention of student accommodation, proliferation of student accommodation.
  • A complete imbalance between characterful period buildings offering decent accommodation and cheap speculative profit.
  • Currently 7 other large scale student accommodation…why is this required in G1 area too







The final slide was entitled, ‘What we’d like’

Less Tall

Less Spread

Lower Density

Adherence to Council’s own plans and policies

A level playing field


At the conclusion a vote was taken.  Around 7 voted for the proposal.  An alternative option was offered that “The Community Council would back the proposal but only with a list of amendments including a reduction in height, and requesting an explanation into the mix of student flats compared to regular accommodation particularly with regard to the number of student developments across the city”  





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