ITS revamp was ­controversial from the start, but yesterday George Square's new look was met with a largely positive ­reaction as it finally re-opened to the public.

Early autumn sun blazed down on the newly restored city centre space after the perimeter barriers came down, revealing the much-anticipated new look.

The red surface has been lifted and replaced with hard wearing resin and two new, large grassy areas have been created, replacing the ones which were controversially dug up 15 years ago. They have been designed so they can be covered up to allow large scale events to be held in the square. Turf will be relaid around four times a year to ensure the area always looks smart.

The new look George Square was given a warm welcome by residents ­yesterday. Student Lewis Clark, 25, from Dennistoun, said the revamp ensured Glasgow compared well with overseas destinations.

"I've just come back from Taiwan and they have plenty of public space there outside their city halls where people can come out and enjoy their city," he said. "It looks like that here now. I like it."

Jim Kinning, 47, said it looked "bigger and more spacious". But the panel beater from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, added: "They could have done something a bit dramatic with it. People who visit all the time won't see many changes."

The council had originally planned a larger scale revamp, with firms competing with their designs for the city landmark. However, councillors later abandoned the proposals and announced a scaled back, £500,000 facelift, claiming there was little public support for any of the competition entries.

The historic statues have also been given a new look as part of the £500,000 first phase of the upgrade of the square.

Elsewhere, the benches have been returned. They have been placed round the edges of the grass beds allowing the number to be doubled.

One of the most dramatic changes to the square is at the Cenotaph, in front of the City Chambers. It has been cleaned and repointed and 30 conifers, each more than 20ft tall, have been removed so they no longer block the view of the City Chambers.

Jack Williamson, 25, said it was "really nice" but added: "I don't think all that much has changed - I had thought the change would have been much more dramatic."

However, Sandra Boyle, a sign language teacher, was more impressed.

The 48-year-old, from the Merchant City, said: "I like seeing the grass back and it's great to already see kids playing and making the most of it. I always enjoy sitting in the Square."

Sales assistant Cree Bell, 21, from Possil, said: "I was expecting to see something totally different - something you can look at and go 'wow'. It's not got the wow factor though it does look fresher. I'm disappointed."

But Sophie Gibson, 23, a graduate, said: "The square has to fit its historical surroundings and this works well."