One of Scotland's most distinguished galleries will be given a new lease of life as it is formerly leased to Glasgow School of Art (GSA).


The executive committee of Glasgow City Council has given its approval to the school (GSA) to take on a 95-year lease of the B-listed McLellan Galleries.

The GSA will make a minimum investment of £10m in the galleries, potentially rising to as much as £20m.

The revamp will include plans, currently being developed in concept form by Page/Park Architects, which could include a new central courtyard and exhibition space, allowing a public route through from Sauchiehall Street to the GSA's Mackintosh, Reid and Bourdon Buildings on Renfrew Street.

The galleries have not been in full use for years and the council this year advertised for a body to take on a long term lease of the venerable galleries, with a commitment to repair the building and "use it in line with its historic focus on art, culture and public access."

Now the building will be run by the GSA for the foreseeable future and be used for public, artistic and academic purposes.

It could also potentially be used for Fine Art Degree Shows while the fire-damaged Mackintosh Building is restored.

Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The McLellan Galleries has enjoyed a great past, and now we can look forward to a fantastic future for this wonderful building.

"The Glasgow School of Art presented an extremely strong case for the long-term lease, and seem a perfect fit for the Galleries.

"As a world class institution, I very much look forward to seeing the final designs the School of Art have for the building.

"This is not just great news for the development of the McLellan Galleries and the growth of the School of Art, but also for this part of the city centre."

Professor Tom Inns, director of The Glasgow School of Art said: "The GSA first occupied the McLellan Galleries between 1869 and 1899 before moving into purpose-designed accommodation at 167 Renfrew Street - The Mackintosh Building.

"At that time they were considered to be ill adapted of the purposes of a school of art.

"100 years later our plans and investment in the Galleries will bring them back to life and secure their long-term future for both the school and the city."

Detailed design on the galleries will start immediately, and a timetable for the development of the galleries will be agreed between the council and GSA.

The date of entry and commencement of the 95 year lease will be from September 2015.

GSA is currently occupying the galleries and will continue to do so until the date of entry on a temporary licence.

GSA proposes to take a lease with an annual rental of £1,000 to be subject to an annual CPI increase.

Page/Park and the GSA describe the McLellan as a "a trapped iceberg inside the city block."

A study says: "Underneath the lovely galleries is a warren of subterranean lightless spaces that take up a huge area and struggle to find effective uses."

Page\Park's conceptual proposal has two elements - to remove the central gallery down to ground level to create a new central covered courtyard around which the ground floor rooms, mezzanine floor and upper level galleries "wrap", bringing light to the heart of the building.

They also envisage a roof-top extension to the north providing additional space with a new façade on to Renfrew Street providing access to all floors, views of the Mackintosh and Reid Buildings and a new entrance on to Renfrew Street.

The Sauchiehall Street entrance will become a new front door for the School of Art with access into the courtyard and a new route up to Renfrew Street and to the Mackintosh, Reid and Bourdon Buildings.