Plans have been submitted for a 36-storey student accommodation tower in Glasgow city centre on the site of a former tax office.

Developer Watkin Jones Group has submitted the application to regenerate the site on India Street in Charing Cross, adjacent to Charing Cross train station and directly on the line of the M8 motorway as it passes north to south through the city centre.

The development would see the partial demolition of the existing former HMRC building and the part-retention of the existing concrete frame. 

Two buildings of 36-storeys and 10-storeys, totalling 784 student beds, are proposed, with the taller building featuring a sky lounge on the top floor offering views of the surrounding cityscape.

If consented, the new development will be called The Àrd, which means high or lofty in Gaelic.

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Public realm works would be undertaken around the building to provide additional outdoor amenity and activation of the streetscape.

The development would also incorporate the use of low and zero carbon technologies such as heat pumps and low energy lighting.

Developer Watkin Jones said the highest point of The Àrd - the roof of the northern tower - would be 136 metres (448 feet) high. 

If approved by the council, The Ard would surpass the Glasgow Tower within the Glasgow Science Centre - which stands at at 127 metres (417 ft) - as the tallest structure in the city.

The development would also see charity Glasgow Social Enterprise Network (GSEN) occupy a ground floor unit free of charge. Alongside it would be a commercial space facing Charing Cross station, which is likely to be used for a café, workspace or similar.

The Herald: The Àrd developmentThe Àrd development (Image: Hawkins Brown)

GSEN would use the space “for a variety of purposes, including providing training opportunities for both social enterprises and students, as well as delivering a tech recycling programme, offering free or low-cost tech to students and social enterprises, serving to reduce tech waste”. 

Watkin Jones said the development will help to address a “chronic undersupply of student accommodation” in Glasgow and act as a “catalyst for change and enhancing the vitality” of the Charing Cross area of the city. 

Iain Smith, planning director of Watkin Jones, said: “This exciting development at The Àrd will regenerate a brownfield site bringing vitality to this part of the city, providing high-quality and much-needed student homes, in addition to greatly increased public realm.

“We are delighted to welcome Glasgow Social Enterprise Network who will accommodate space in the building, should it be consented. This organisation will support the delivery of the next generation of entrepreneurs, also working with those students living in the building.”

Jennifer Robertson, Director of Glasgow Social Enterprise Network, commented: “The provision of a new multi-function space for GSEN at The Àrd is a fantastic opportunity, as we continue to expand our operations.

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“Working with the five universities in Glasgow, this is an ideally located home for us, providing excellent access to the city’s extensive student population. 

“Providing opportunities for social enterprises and students, The Àrd will support the delivery of the next generation of entrepreneurs and social and environmental innovators.”

 Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce commented: “It is fantastic to see this level of investment being proposed for Glasgow by a developer with an exceptional track record for investment in the city.

 “The student age population in Glasgow is increasing, and the city’s three largest institutions are all targeting continued, significant growth in their latest strategic plans.

 “Delivering high-quality student homes will address this increasing demand and will also serve to retain skilled young people in the city as well as regenerating the city centre, which is a key aspiration of the city council.

 “The site has excellent transport links and local businesses will clearly benefit from these proposals. Innovative developments such as this are to be greatly welcomed.”