Ambitious plans to regenerate derelict gap sites on Glasgow's main shopping streets have been detailed in a new plan for the so-called "Golden Z" area of the city.

Historic Sauchiehall Street has been particularly hard hit by economic changes in the city centre as well as a series of significant fires that have created plots of vacant land.

A document going before councillors today - the Golden Z Vision - shows how the area around the former BHS and Watt Bros buildings; and the former Victoria’s nightclub and O2 ABC gap sites could look in dramatic new images. 

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It also includes the eyesore area around the vacant TJ Hughes site near Trongate.

Council officials say the vision and delivery plan, if it is approved at committee today, will finally transform Glasgow retail core along Sauchiehall, Buchanan and Argyle streets.

It identifies areas for intervention and investment, by the public and private sectors, that will support recovery and long-term resilience.

Councillor Angus Millar, Convener for City Centre Recovery at Glasgow City Council, said: “Sauchiehall, Argyle and Buchanan streets have long been at the heart of the city centre experience, but these key thoroughfares have been increasingly impacted by the major structural economic changes that are affecting city centres everywhere.

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"Having a particular focus on this historic shopping area will help ensure it adapts to the changing retail sector and takes the opportunities coming its way.

"The actions within the plan for the Golden Z will support our efforts to encourage a more diverse mix of uses in the city centre, including new residential accommodation, as well as finding positive solutions for key sites and supporting the repurposing of vacant property."

The document identifies key themes to help in the improvement of the crucial city centre area.

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It details how good quality retail premises along the prime spine of Buchanan Street is highlighted must be complemented by a greater mix of restaurant, café, bar and leisure uses to activate key routes and adjoining streets.

The need for more homes, workspaces and cultural attractions to enliven the Z through different times of the day and evening is outlined. Sustainable travel is also highlighted to make the city centre more accessible and bring the benefits from better connected movement networks and urban spaces.

Increasing the number of people living in the heart of the city has long been an aim of the council and the report also looks how new homes might be introduced - whether those are affordable, family, student and later living homes - within new and repurposed buildings and upper floors. The need to provide centrally located community facilities and services to enable their development is highlighted.

The new McLellan Works on Sauchiehall Street is mentioned as an example of the creation of flexible working space to facilitate new post-pandemic working environments.

Cultural links are also a main focus of the plans with the document discussing how cultural attractions and institutions can be better integrated to enhance cultural participation and boost the leisure economy, particularly arounf Sauchiehall Street.

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The importance of ensuring a vibrant and safe city centre providing culture, music, bars and restaurants which enhance the city’s economy and destination appeal is highlighted.

In addition, the climate emergency is at the forefront of the plans with the report looking at progressing carbon neutrality, increasing density, property repurposing, greening the grey and in ensuring the city core is accessible and safe.

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Mr Millar added: "The continued rollout of the Avenues programme and a new city centre greening strategy will help improve the area’s look and feel, while we also want to capitalise on its fantastic cultural and creative assets as part of the regeneration of Sauchiehall Street.

"We look forward to working with partners in pursuing this vision, with this work being an important part of our wider Glasgow City Centre Strategy which will be published and consulted upon in the coming weeks."

The council and its consultants - Stantec (UK), Threesixty Architecture and Kevin Murray Associates - engaged with the area’s landowners, businesses, institutions, agencies, residents and visitors to discuss how best the Golden Z should be improved in the future.

As part of the engagement, consideration was given to the main issues currently affecting the Golden Z - such as the impact of changing retail and leisure trends, a growing city centre population, lingering post-pandemic behaviour changes in how residents shop, work and live, and the need to repurpose vacant sites and buildings in the area.

The vision and plan identified key priorities for intervention and investment - by both the public and private sectors - that will deliver the area’s economic recovery and underpin its economic, social and environmental resilience.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Stuart Patrick, said: "This report is full of data and insights about the former Golden Z and it makes an extensive contribution to the emerging plan for tackling the challenges faced by the City Centre post-pandemic.

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"We now have a full suite of recommendations for empty buildings, improving the city centre transport system and doubling residential accommodation in the city centre."

The council said that several areas of action have been set out to ensure the report's aims are met.

These include: progressing the redevelopment options for the three ‘areas of focus’; proactively tackling blight and promoting good stewardship of buildings and sites; the creation of world-class public spaces; exploring the creation of a Sauchiehall Cultural District; and ensuring cross-sector collaboration in delivery and the exploration of governance.

Mr Patrick added: "We especially welcome the recommendation for a powerful cultural district based on and around Sauchiehall Street and the continuing importance of retail to both Buchanan Street and Argyle Street.

"Now our focus turns to the next steps in delivering the vision the report sets out.

"That includes attracting the required funding from private and public partners, and seizing the opportunity that lies in front of us to create an expert team that will help to deliver the report’s recommendations."

It is also recommended that the council explores the use of its statutory enforcement powers to tackle incidences of poor stewardship and blight, including vacant land and buildings and those in a poor state of repair.

The Golden Z project is funded by the Scottish Government’s City Centre Recovery Fund and will be overseen by Glasgow’s City Centre Task Force, co-chaired by Councillor Angus Millar and Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

This project is one of several targeted at stimulating post-pandemic city centre recovery, including the City Centre Living Strategy, the City Centre Transport Plan, the Property Repurposing Action Plan, and the city centre’s District Regeneration Frameworks.