WORK on the blueprint to ‘heal the wound’ of Scotland’s busiest stretch of road will begin within weeks, with one of country’s most prestigious architectural firms involved in early designs.

Plans to take forward one of the boldest proposals in a generation, an extensive park covering the M8 at Glasgow’s Charing Cross, will see feasibility work commence in the spring with the final decision on whether it will go ahead taken by mid-2018.

The city council’s proposed milestones emerge as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architectural practice publishes images of how a scheme could radically alter the city’s landscape, giving landmark buildings like the Mitchell Library new prominence.

Keppie has held discussions with local authority officials on the M8 concept, which has echoes of New York’s High Line or the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, with the firm believing it could have a transformative effect in Glasgow similar to Manchester’s regeneration or the impact of the 1988 Garden Festival.

Revealed by The Herald in 2015, the M8 idea was floated as part of a wider vision to transform the area around Sauchiehall Street and Garnethill by making it more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly.

But in the year since, the council has committed to procuring the feasibility work in late spring, with work including traffic modelling, engineering and site investigations, as well as economic analysis, getting underway in the autumn.

A business case with options and cost and benefit analysis is scheduled to go to authority’s main decision-making body in the summer 2018 for decision.

Read more: Plans hatched for new public park...on a roof covering Scotland's busiest motorway stretch

The council said it had also been working closely with the team behind the Klyde Warren Park, which covered a busy city centre freeway and opened in 2012.


Klyde Warren Park, Dallas

David Ross is design director at Keppie, which recently worked with the firm behind the High Line, which transformed areas of New York with parks and gardens built on disused rail tracks.

He said that one the back of work on commercial and civic buildings in Glasgow the firm became aware its ideas for the city’s future public spaces struck a chord with many in the local authority.

Mr Ross added: “The vision in, say Manchester, is predicated on a vibrant mix of people-focused inner city connections and public spaces where transport infrastructure isn’t developed at the cost of its urban realm.

“We feel really strongly about such a coherent vision. Almost 30 years ago, the Garden Festival changed the city’s perception of itself. It changed our expectations for the city, and the pebble dropped by the administration then had ripples which are still being felt today. But perhaps we now need another pebble creating a stronger series of ripples.”

Read more: Plans hatched for new public park...on a roof covering Scotland's busiest motorway stretch

The council had previously said that construction or installation of the motorway 'cap' would "most likely require temporary closure of/access to the M8 in one or both directions”. It added that the most likely time for this to happen would be during any oncoming need to upgrade the road infrastructure along the stretch.

Council leader Frank McAveety said: ”This is a truly inspiring project but also one that is complex as it is ambitious. We must get the groundwork right and take time to create something that benefits the city.”

An SNP group spokesman said: “This is the kind of fresh approach that moves beyond just building roads and student flats and deserves to be explored further.”