PROPOSALS for a “once in a lifetime” transformation of Charing Cross in Glasgow, which would include the removal of the Tay House bridge over the M8 motorway, have been submitted to the city council.

Developers are seeking planning permission in principle for a £250 million project they say will “reimagine” the area which connects the Charing Cross end of Sauchiehall Street with the west end.

The Charing Cross project will be spread over two phases, the first of which would include the construction of student accommodation and a healthcare/ GP surgery facility.

Phase two envisages a mixed-tenure residential development combining homes, office space and a hotel. The removal of the Tay House bridge will have a “transformational effect”, state the developers, “providing the opportunity to create a new gateway into the city centre”.

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Behind the proposals are CXG Glasgow Limited, a subsidiary of Tracey Investments Limited and owner of the Venlaw building and Elmbank Gardens, in conjunction with the owner of the property at 300 Bath Street. The masterplan has been devised by Michael Laird Architects.

The plans have been backed by Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. Mr Patrick said: “The city’s three main universities have confirmed a strategic aim to grow their student numbers in the years ahead and accommodation has to expand in line with that, especially when you consider how limited the options are at the moment.

“A development like this caters for that need while plugging into ongoing plans to transform a key part of the city’s traditional retail and hospitality artery.

“It’s no secret that Sauchiehall Street has seen better days, and this application presents an opportunity to galvanise an iconic area of the city and re-establish it as a dynamic accommodation and business hub.”

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The plans for Charing Cross may be welcomed by observers who have become concerned over the deterioration of Glasgow city centre and particularly parts of Sauchiehall Street in recent years.

The once-mighty retail thoroughfare has been blighted by a series of high-profile business closures, such as Marks & Spencer, BHS, and Watt Brothers, with the rate of decline gathering pace in the wake of the pandemic. More recently, concern has been expressed by the timing, cost and duration of The Avenues project, which while ultimately seeking to improve the landscape of the street is currently causing significant upheaval for businesses and shoppers.

Developers of the Charing Cross plans say its plans would create a gateway to the city centre, encourage more people to live there in line with The City Centre Living Strategy, and link up with The Avenues project. They also state that the proposals would underpin the redevelopment of Charing Cross, and enable investment in the public realm and safe pedestrian routes.

The planning application for the Charing Cross project comes shortly after the developer bidding to build student flats on the site of the former Marks & Spencer store on Sauchiehall Street brought forward devised plans. Fusion Student had seen its initial plans rejected by city planners in November, amid concerns it would be “harmful” to the surrounding conservation area and “contribute to an over-provision of student accommodation in the vicinity relative to mainstream residential accommodation”.

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The refreshed plans involve demolishing most of the existing building while retaining its 1930s façade, and reducing the height of the proposed structure. Plans state the building would be suitable for a “comparatively ‘light touch’ redevelopment” to an alternative use, rather than student flats, if “future social or market conditions necessitate”. They suggest it could become build-to-rent homes or a hotel.

Commercial property giant Land Securities is planning to knock down shopping centre Buchanan Galleries at the foot of Sauchiehall Street and replace it with a new mixed-use development including residential accommodation, offices, shops, and hospitality outlets.