Plans for nearly 600 new homes in the centre of Scotland’s largest city have been hailed by high-profile entrepreneurs Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter – but the businessmen have called on Glasgow City Council to do more to help those investing in the city and abolish new policies that punish businesses including the introduction of new parking charges from next month.

Discussing both issues on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, they welcomed the new residential neighbour which will create 595 new homes, amenities and community space, with new landscaped gardens and public realm, to be called One Cowcaddens.

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They also praised the Glasgow City Centre Taskforce, co-chaired by Stuart Patrick, the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Councillor Angus Millar, convener for climate, Glasgow Green Deal, transport and city centre recovery at the council, for its efforts towards revitalising and regenerating Glasgow.

However, they warned that while developments like One Cowcaddens were “good news”, there were other issues that needed to be addressed such as making it easier for investors to get projects off the ground. Sir Tom said: “Glasgow should say thank you to the people who want to invest in the city centre and the council should put resource next to it that says ‘anything you need to through planning we can help you’.

“This is not to cut corners but to streamline [the process] because the quicker you invest your money you might invest more.”
Sir Tom made reference to Manchester, which Lord Haughey described as “the city of cranes”, and said that he would like to see Glasgow follow its lead – but warned that Glasgow was unlikely to replicate its thriving night-time economy in light of new parking charges being introduced in April which will extend the current 6pm cut-off to 10pm.

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Reiterating recent comments by hospitality industry businessman Michael Bergson, who has been deeply critical of both the new parking charges and last year’s introduction of a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) Glasgow city centre, Lord Haughey said: “There are small things that can be done that wouldn’t cost a lot of money so can we clean the city up, can we help get all the people sleeping rough into accommodation? Can we look at the barriers for people coming into the city centre?

“Michael said that anyone coming into the city centre, parking outside his establishment or going for a pizza, going to the pictures or anywhere else they might want to go … it now costs you more to park than it costs to buy the pizza.”

Pointing to a new joint survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), Sir Tom highlighted some of its finding: namely that nearly all the respondents (97%) say the 10pm parking plans would hurt their business; and more than half think that they would have to reduce staff hours or staff numbers (54% and 50% respectively). “If there is ever self-harm, this it,” Sir Tom said.

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“Listen to people,” added Lord Haughey. “It’s great having big, shiny, new buildings but let’s get a vibrant city centre where people are proud to live, work, and spend their hard-earned money enjoying themselves without putting all these secondary taxes on them.”

Sir Tom, meanwhile, pointed to retail giant Next which reported a 5% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £918 million for the year to January and is forecasting over £1 billion in profits for next year. “We are talking about our high streets and this has got to be good news for them.”

Chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson, he noted, said that the outlook for UK consumer confidence was the best he has seen in seven years. “He is one of the people I really listen to in the retail trade,” he noted.

“The high street definitely needs a shot in the arm,” added Lord Haughey, “and we need to do everything we can to help.”