The Glasgow School of Art has said it can "appreciate and understand" concerns over 19 months of 'inertia' over the rebuild of the Mack that has been described as a "scandal" which will add millions to its estimated cost of more than £100m.

A June 2018 fire destroyed the iconic grade A-listed Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building as it neared the end of a multi-million pound restoration project following an earlier blaze in May 2014.

But attempts at the reinstatement of the masterpiece originally designed by renowned Scots architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh have stalled and serious questions raised about whether the restoration will ever happen.

A clear contrast has been made with the work done on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was severely damaged by a blaze in 2019 and is scheduled to reopen at the end of this year.

But the GSA say that it remains committed to a "faithful reinstatement" of the Mackintosh Building.

READ MORE: Glasgow School of Art: 19 months of 'inertia' over return of The Mack

"We appreciate and understand the sense of concern from many people," a spokesman said. "The rebuilding of the Mackintosh Building is a complex project - something we made clear in January 2023 - in what is widely recognised as an incredibly challenging economic and political period.

The Herald:

"While comparisons to Notre Dame and the progress made there are often made, the scale of damage and the collective response there is better compared with the 2014 Mackintosh fire than what happened in 2018 where the scale of damage and loss was on an entirely different level.

"Post the 2018 fire we are not leading a restoration project but instead a rebuild project and the faithful reinstatement of a significant building. "In the [strategic outline business case] published in 2021 we were clear that The Mackintosh building is an integral part of the Glasgow School of Art’s future…it plays a unique role in delivering a world class creative education and student experience for the generations of future GSA students…and has the potential to be a catalyst for the social and economic regeneration of Garnethill and the surrounding commercial areas – in particular Sauchiehall Street. This remains our position and strongly held commitment."

Glasgow School of Art fires: read the series in full here

A design team was supposed to have been in place according to the GSA itinerary by August 2022 - but that still has not happened with hopes of getting any council planning approval for the project not expected until the spring of 2026 the earliest, according to estimates based on the GSA's own schedule

The spokesman added: "Following the June 2018 fire, the Mackintosh Building site was under the control of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service while they undertook a fire investigation report, published in January 2022. The Mackintosh Building was handed back to The Glasgow School of Art in late summer 2021.

READ MORE: Lachlan Goudie: ScotGov must intervene over School of Art fails

"During the period the site was under the control of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, which included the Covid period where all construction work was significantly curtailed, the school progressed with clearance and stabilisation works to the building structure in parallel to the SFRS investigation works.

"To progress the project alongside the SFRS investigation and our own clearance and stabilisation works, in 2020 we commissioned and then published in October 2021, the strategic outline business case. This concluded that the best option was faithful reinstatement.

"Following publication of the SFRS Fire Investigation Report in January 2022, the GSA undertook further advance works to the Mackintosh Building with Phase 1, physical preparation works and removal of fire damaged material, completed in January 2023 and Phase 2A, enabling works completed in June 2023 which included the installation of the temporary roof and building wrap.

"This has enabled the drying out of the building to commence, alongside continued reduction in scaffold and further strategic removal of parts of the structure.

The Herald:

"These include removal of the library piers (replaced post 2014 fire) and internal brick work repairs - primarily main corridor and lintels using salvaged imperial bricks. All of this work is strategic, sequential and represents advance works in line with our October 2021 commitment to faithful reinstatement of the building."

Read more: Glasgow School of Art's rise to the toast of the art world

Glasgow School of Art: students and politicians recall the 2014 fire

A complete timeline of the Glasgow School of Art fires

The GSA say the reduction in the external scaffold has allowed it to commence the re-glazing of the Reid Building which was damaged in 2018. "Throughout this period the school has continued to engage with key stakeholders including the Steering Group Mackintosh, a group of external stakeholders with diverse range of skills, knowledge and experience, the Scottish and UK Government, Glasgow City Council and our local communities, alongside progressing further phases of what is a very complex and challenging project," the spokesman added.

"A first stage of this was the procurement process that the GSA closed in March 2023 with no appointment made following the identification of a technical error in the scoring matrix. A new procurement process will take place in due course."