A NEW urban neighbourhood with homes, retail, restaurants, and office space could be created in Glasgow through radical plans to demolish the Buchanan Galleries.

The flagship shopping mall could be replaced to make way for a 21st century mixed-use development with new streets.

Owner Landsec wants to consult on its plans for the future of the centre and says the proposals are a response to the disruption facing retail, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is also designed to support Glasgow’s net zero ambitions to build on the success of the COP26 world climate change conference.

Read more: Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries could be 'demolished' to create urban neighbourhood

From a mix of hotels, restaurants, street-facing retail, and housing, the company’s vision could change the way people live, socialise and shop in the city centre, but also complement Glasgow’s traditional grid-style lay out.

It is seven years since a previous plan, which would have seen the shopping mall double in size at a cost of £400 million while scrapping the Concert Hall steps, was shelved.

While discussions are at an early stage, the owner stressed there is no immediate impact to the current tenants in the galleries, which includes the flagship John Lewis department store.

HeraldScotland: Retailers including John Lewis are being consultedRetailers including John Lewis are being consulted

A John Lewis spokesman said: "Investment for Buchanan Galleries has been long-awaited and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Land Securities to help shape their plans for the shopping centre."

The news comes just days after a blow to city retail when it was revealed Marks & Spencer in Sauchiehall Street was to close for good.

The new masterplan is being viewed as an opportunity to improve the area around the Concert Hall steps at the top of Buchanan Street to allow for the reconfiguration of Buchanan Galleries, along with better pedestrian links around Buchanan Street and to Killermont Street.

There is also an opportunity to develop Dundas Street, which is close to Queen Street Station.

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David Heaford, managing director of development at Landsec, said: “Cities around the world are learning to adapt to the public’s changing habits – and we want to help Glasgow be well-positioned to do the same.

"Our vision is to replace the existing shopping centre with an exciting new mixed-use urban neighbourhood in the heart of the city centre, blending world-class shopping with places to work, live and play.”

He said the firm’s plans will seek to extend the grid layout, support the city’s net zero ambitions and will be informed by the needs and views of local people, visitors and businesses.

Landsec is working with Glasgow City Council and will enter into negotiations. The details were made available to Glasgow City Council’s city administration committee in a paper that will go before members next week.

HeraldScotland: Buchanan Galleries has been at the heart of city retail for more than 20 yearsBuchanan Galleries has been at the heart of city retail for more than 20 years

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “Approval for the commencement of negotiations with Landsec would allow us to push ahead with addressing oncoming challenges and opportunities in this rapidly changing world. 

“A 21st century city centre delivering on Glasgow’s international standing and ambitions means more mixed-use developments, a greater residential population, more public spaces, sustainable transport options and more people-focused streets.

"The transformation of the Buchanan Galleries can be a vote of confidence on Glasgow’s future.”

More than 850 construction jobs could be created each year during the build phase, leading to more than 9,500 permanent jobs for the city centre.

The firm said on completion this could result in over £1 billion of gross value added to the economy each year, demonstrating a significant benefit to Glasgow and Scotland.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said this was a major opportunity for the city.

Mr Patrick said: “We have got one of the biggest funded UK property companies owning one of the biggest assets and it is saying one option could be to completely change it and I think we should be open to that.

“It will have an impact, as anything of this scale would have on a city, but from our perspective Glasgow has a big investor looking to spend potentially hundreds of millions of pounds while reflecting the change in retail.”

While early proposals include a mixed-use urban development, Mr Patrick said it doesn’t necessarily have to mean a substantial reduction in retail but said there does seem to be a move towards fewer buildings with one fixed use.

HeraldScotland: Council leader Susan Aitken said the transformation can be a vote of confidence on Glasgow’s futureCouncil leader Susan Aitken said the transformation can be a vote of confidence on Glasgow’s future

Mr Patrick, who is also co-chairman of Glasgow City Centre Taskforce, said the timing is key as the city looks to recovers economically from the impact of the pandemic.

He added: “I think we know city centres have to change, we have seen that from the past two years, and it is very difficult for high streets in small towns to get the investment they need for that change, but here in Glasgow we have one of the biggest property companies  with confidence in the city.

“It is the perfect time to be looking at change in that part of the city. I think this is a real positive for Glasgow for the next 20 or 30 years. What we are short of in the city is family-based entertainment and we don’t have  a host of tourism assets within the city centre, so there is room to change that and opportunities for us.”