A new river park to complement Glasgow city centre's retail, hospitality and arts sectors will form part of ambitious plans to transform the area and drive post-Covid economic recovery.

A major strategy to re-develop the area over the next three decades and create the UK's first carbon neutral city by 2045, has been approved by the Scottish Government.

The plan aims to create a more 'family-friendly' and live-able city centre, improve the neglected riverside area, reduce car use and create high quality green spaces.

A new river park extending from Glasgow Green to the SEC, with space for leisure, nature and culture is proposed.

The council is to carry out an assessment of city centre streets and the grid system, looking at how they are used by traffic and pedestrians. A similar project was carried out in central London.


A more simplified, highly integrated ‘green grid’ street network will be created that improves the walking and cycling experience across the area with improvements to crossings at the M8.

A higher proportion of street space is said to be given to car parking than in many comparator city centres "at the expense of pedestrian space" with narrow and often crowded pavements in polluted hot spots.

The street network 'lacks clarity' with too many streets that cater for every mode of transport and incrementally implemented bus gates and one way systems. The bus network has too much duplication of routes while M8 crossing are 'difficult and unattractive' for pedestrians. Plans for a new crossing at the Kingston Bridge will also be explored.

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The council has set a target to reduce car journeys in the city centre by 30% by 2030, working towards a target of 50% by 2050. 

The strategy advocates that the area should become a 'day out destination' with more leisure opportunities and child-friendly spaces.

"Shopping is increasingly becoming just one component of a wider leisure and entertainment visitor experience, therefore, to remain competitive, the City Centre must diversify its offer to become a more attractive ‘day out’ destination that appeals to more users - including families, which it currently does not serve well".


The document warns that vacant and under-occupied retail space is likely to grow, in the short term, matched also by office space freed up to accommodated greater home working.

"The pandemic has highlighted the need for a greater resident population within city centres to sustain shops and services along with a greater blend of uses and attractions to bring life and activity through day and evening."

The restoration of the Glasgow School of Art is said to be crucial in helping re-invigorate Sauchiehall Street.

The strategy discusses a global shift in cities towards ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’, whereby people should be able to meet all their needs (for work, shops, services, schools, play, greenspace) within a short walk or cycle from home.


The city centre is said to be more sparsely populated than its European counterparts and efforts will be made to encourage more people to live there.


"The Covid –19 pandemic has caused an acute economic and social shock to City Centre life.

"However, it has highlighted prevailing issues in the urban quality of the City Centre that must be addressed to ensure the centre’s ongoing economic and social renewal and strengthen its future resilience.  

"Reclaiming public space for people and nature—such as permanently reallocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, creating high quality public spaces, greening the centre and investing in naturebased solutions (including trees, green roofs) —will ensure the City Centre is a better, healthier, more attractive and more sustainable place to live and work.

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"The area will also attract more investment as businesses and developers respond to the increased quality of its spaces and places, so fundamental to the enjoyment of a city centre."

A public consultation took place between October 2019 and January 2020 and more than 1000 individual comments were received from local residents, visitors, businesses, elected members and other groups, which have helped shape the plan.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “The SDF is a key part of our plans to transform the city centre as we look forward to building on its many strengths while meeting the challenges of changing retail, office and residential environments, as well as the impacts of climate change.  

"The framework advocates an acceleration in the scale and pace of these plans in order to meet net-zero carbon targets and improve the environment of the city centre for everyone who uses it.”

It comes as Glasgow was voted fourth 'greenest' city in the UK in a poll scoring places on nature, transport, emissions and sustainability.

London  scored highest as investment in solar outshone the rest of the cities at £149,126 per million pounds of council budget.

The nature scoring criteria comprised green spaces available, analysing parks per 10,000 of the population. Glasgow has 90 spanning the city.