Fears have been raised for the future of two world-renowned Glasgow music venues after controversial plans for a mixed-use development with flats were given the go-ahead. 

Proposals for a landscaped and carbon-friendly development at the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City were approved by the city council’s Planning Applications Committee following a public hearing.

The plans for the Ingram Street site, which is currently being used as a temporary car park, include 109 sustainable apartments and groundfloor commercial space, housed in buildings varying in height from four to seven storeys. 

Merchant City and Trongate Community Council wanted the land to be turned into a park and over 140 objectors opposed the plans, raising concerns over the loss of 21 trees and the impact on the neighbouring City Halls and Old Fruitmarket music venues.

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The residents’ forum said the hearing was the most important event for residents in the past 20 years and the culmination of a four-year fight for the area’s first green space. 

The hearing heard from a sound expert, who objected to the plans and said that no amount of noise mitigation could prevent noise seepage from such close proximity. 

Lindsay McIntyre, a director at KSG Acoustics, was employed on behalf of Glasgow Life, which runs both the City Halls and the Old Fruitmarket. 

She said she had been “deeply concerned since the inception of these proposals about the adverse effects on the old Fruitmarket and City Halls as a result of placing new noise-sensitive dwellings within such close proximity”.

Depute Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bailie Christy Mearns, took to Twitter to express how “bitterly disappointed” she was at the committee’s decision to green-light the development, adding that it “directly threatens the future of world-renowned music venues, the Old Fruitmarket and City Halls”.

Councillor Mearns also tweeted that the sound expert was “flabbergasted as feels there is no way City Halls & Old Fruitmarket won’t be threaten[ed] with closure”. 

The City Halls is Glasgow’s oldest purpose-built performance and meeting space, and has been entertaining visitors since 1841. It played host to the likes of Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Dickens in the 19th century. 

It underwent a major £15 million refurbishment to become the new home for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra before reopening in 2006. 

The adjoining Old Fruitmarket, which was a functioning market until the 1970s, has been reborn as a music venue while still retaining its traditional ambience as a trading space, with a number of its period features retained, including a a vaulted roof, cast-iron columns and grocers’ signs.

The Herald: The City HallsThe City Halls

Together, both venues host well over 200 events a year, with the Old Fruitmarket hosting many events during Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual international folk, roots and world music festival. 

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow Life fed into the planning process of this development as operators of the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket. 

“We note the decision and look forward to working with developers as the project progresses.” The vote by Glasgow City Council’s Planning Applications Committee was tied 3-3 but carried on the casting vote of its chairman, Councillor Ken Andrew, an SNP representative for Hillhead. 

Other objectors said the proposed development was out of context with existing buildings and would hide views of the historic A-Listed Ramshorn Church, which dates back to 1720, and add to already serious traffic problems in the area, especially since the proposal had no provision for parking spaces. 

The site is also currently home to one of Glasgow’s most recognisable and well-loved murals, the “Fellow Glasgow Residents” work by street artist Smug, which shows various types of animal found in the city’s parks and green spaces appearing through what looks like holes in the wall.