GLASGOW redevelopment plans which could see one of its flagship shopping malls demolished could lead to a trend across the UK.

Professor Leigh Sparks, of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling believes the future development of the city and how the prime shopping site is transformed will be closely looked at by the rest of the UK’s retail industry.

His comments come following the exclusive announcement in The Herald which revealed plans to demolish or replace Buchanan Galleries as its owners look to redevelop the site as a mixed-used urban neighbourhood with new streets potentially created.

Read more: Buchanan Galleries demolition: What happens next in 'transformation' plans

It comes at a time when city centres and retailers were badly hit during lockdown with many city centres, including Glasgow, virtual ghost towns.

Professor Sparks said: “Clearly city centres and town centres as well are about far more than retail if they are going to be successful. Given changes in retail over the past 25 years, if you think Amazon is 25 years old now and is no longer a start-up, online shopping and the way people live their lives now means cities and towns need to keep up with the trends.”


Buchanan Galleries could be replaced with mixed-use urban neighbourhood

Buchanan Galleries could be replaced with mixed-use urban neighbourhood


Professor Sparks says the retail industry up and down the country will be looking at future plans and all eyes will be on what happens in Glasgow.

He added: “Many of the shopping developments, and Buchanan Galleries is a good example, are about retail looking in on itself and you can see that in a lot of towns and cities across Scotland.

“It now seems to be more multiple or mixed-use developments which are more pleasing spaces and brings retail back to the street that are to be favoured. It is a critical, major space in Glasgow and getting this right is going to be very important. I think we will see more of this idea across the country.”

Read more: Scotland's Covid memorial: Pollok House could be key location for discovery

While further details of the redevelopment which could cost in the region of £800,000 are yet to emerge, Prof Sparks doesn’t think the loss of the centre in its current form will make Glasgow any less attractive.

He added: “People don’t just come to Glasgow for retail but for its bars, culture, the feel and ambience of the place. That is what they are attracted to in terms of what Glasgow has to offer.”


Buchanan Galleries was the biggest retail development in Scotland at the time

Buchanan Galleries was the biggest retail development in Scotland at the time


Prof Sparks said redevelopment of retail sites have worked elsewhere in the country including in Edinburgh where plans for the Jenners building would mean developing 10,000m2 of disused rooms above the department store in the six storey building to be made into a hotel. A cafe will be created between the department store and hotel.

While the Johnnie Walker Princes Street whisky visitor attraction is located in the former House of Fraser building in the centre of the city.


Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Edinburgh. The whisky visitor attraction opened last year.

Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Edinburgh. The whisky visitor attraction opened last year.


Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium Head of Policy, said there are opportunities to deliver attractive retail propositions for customers.

Mr MacDonald-Russell said: “We are now deep into the promised process of retail transformation as the industry adapts to the new multichannel world. Whilst that change provides challenges, there are also tremendous opportunities to deliver attractive retail propositions for customers who want the full physical shopping experience. With customers being more discerning and needing positive reasons to shop it’s heartening to see a focus on ensuring Glasgow retains its place as one of the county’s most attractive shopping destinations.”

A vision for 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.


Buchanan Galleries beginning to take shape in 1997

Buchanan Galleries beginning to take shape in 1997


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 st

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.

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.”