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James Mortimer submits £25m revamp plan for Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square

A prominent Glasgow businessman has submitted his latest proposals for a major £25 million development within the heart of the city centre.

PLAN: Businessman James Mortimer has put forward proposals for a £25m development in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square, including a hotel, bars, restaurants, shopping arcade and a casino.

Leisure and property millionaire James Mortimer's vision for the historic Royal Exchange Square includes a hotel with more than 100 beds, high-end retail units, bars, restaurants and a casino.

The plans lodged with the city council have been amended from previous proposals – with the hotel reduced from 11 floors to seven following a mixed response from official bodies who were consulted.

It is the latest phase in an £80m, decade-long project to revamp properties in the square – which also houses the Gallery of Modern Art – and is said by Mr Mortimer's company to be based on the acclaimed Fünf Höfe in Munich.

It will see the demolition of several B-listed properties within the block – which dates back to the mid-1800s – although the facades will be retained.

Previous proposals were due to be heard by the local authority's planning committee in December 2011, but had to be refined to meet with heritage requirements. The plan at the time had been to demolish the entire B-listed properties, with the latest submission also covering a larger footprint.

The submission – drawn up by architects Nord – claims "the buildings and gap sites that comprise the final phase of this development are secondary in nature and in extremely poor condition".

It also says the buildings required to build the hotel are "over 80% vacant, attract current invoiced annual rent of £64,766 across four tenants and of these tenants two are in arrears in excess of £100,000".

The plans have been lodged by Glenerrol, a spin-off of Mr Mortimer's Lynnet Leisure Group, which is described as "a family business established over 40 years and through three generations".

Lynnet has also submitted plans for a hotel in the east end of Glasgow, in the vicinity of Celtic Park and facing the new Emirates Arena. Mr Mortimer's firm already owns a hotel next to his Hamilton Palace nightclub.

A major element of the scheme will be to utilise the alleys and lanes which connect Buchanan Street and Queen Street, and it proposes to "unlock a route north/south from Royal Exchange Square to Princes Square and attract footfall into the depth of the site with the location of a new retail arcade and the hotel entrance at the heart of the development".

The aim is to attract one of London's leading fashion retailers to the area.

The submission also claims Scott Taylor, chief executive of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, "has embraced the proposals as a key Commonwealth Games project", while the Chamber of Commerce and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry have both given their support.

The submission adds: "Nord has delivered a leisure complex with a combined capacity of 3000 people over five floors of entertainment, with three nightclubs, one function room, three restaurants, two public bars, a members' club and five external terrace areas as well as office space and ancillary facilities. The new development represents a further £25m investment which will connect back to areas in which work has already been completed including a number of 'infill' elements within what is a compactly built piece of Glasgow's historic fabric."

A city council spokeswoman said: "This is in the early stages and we expect it to come to committee in due course."

Other Mortimer-owned venues within the footprint of the plans include the Rogano restaurant, Club 29 and Karbon Nightclub.

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