From its emergence in the 1800s, Sauchiehall Street, whose name is derived from the Scots words for willow meadow, transformed from former moorland to Glasgow's most famous street with tenement housing, shops, and offices. 

It was widened and given its name in the 1840s, and by the early 1900s Sauchiehall Street had bloomed and was abuzz with theatre houses, cinemas, ballrooms, hotels, art galleries, restaurants and tearooms.

However, a series of major high street store closures, the impact of devastating fires and Covid has seen the once bustling street become a shadow of its former self. But change is under way as part of the multi-million pound Avenues development.

Now a project set up to ensure culture and heritage are at the heart of the regeneration of Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street has secured a significant grant to help achieve its vision.

Glasgow Life, the charity that leads culture and sport in Glasgow, has been awarded £350,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the development of the Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District plan that will set out the role of culture and heritage in the regeneration of the street.

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In October 2023, Glasgow was one of nine locations chosen to receive support over the next 10 years as part of the Heritage Fund’s new UK-wide Heritage Places programme, which is designed to boost local economies and instil pride in place in towns and cities across the country.

Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, the Heritage Fund and local stakeholders including Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Film Theatre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are working together with a collective aim to use culture and heritage to drive the economic and social renewal of Sauchiehall Street. The street is famed for its international association with culture, music, film, heritage and entertainment.

Like other city centre streets throughout the UK, it has faced challenges in recent years. Strategies such as Glasgow City Council’s ‘Golden Z Report’ have highlighted these issues, calling for a new solution, and the Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District project will ensure that culture and heritage are an integral part of the answer.

The Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District is both a new approach and an opportunity for this vital part of Glasgow’s city centre.

The £350,000 funded development phase of the project will run from April 2024 to October 2025, laying the foundations for culture and heritage to be at the heart of the renewal of Sauchiehall Street.

In recognition of the history of the area, a dedicated project team will work with the people who live in, work on and visit Sauchiehall Street to ensure its future acknowledges its proud past by drawing on its strong cultural associations, from dance and music to film and theatre. The project team will work to boost footfall in the area and influence wider policy and infrastructure developments on the street.

The first phase of the work will form the basis for a further funding application to the Heritage Fund.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council Convenor for Culture, Sport and International Relations, said: “This support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund is fantastic news for Sauchiehall Street and will help to revitalise what is one of Glasgow’s most iconic streets. Sauchiehall Street has a rich cultural heritage, and the funding marks a major milestone in our city’s efforts to deliver positive economic and social change in the area through the Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District. The transformative plans for this historic area ensure that culture and heritage organisations, businesses, residents and visitors alike will benefit for years to come.”

Caroline Clark, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland, said the funding was an important step in heritage-driven regeneration.

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“Sauchiehall Street has a rich heritage as a hub for culture, entertainment, shopping and nightlife, and as a home to a diverse community," she said.

"This funding from our Heritage Places programme is an important first step in our long-term commitment to support heritage-driven regeneration, working closely with stakeholders, including the local community and businesses, to revitalise the area. We welcome the designation of ‘Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District’ as a starting point, and a clear commitment to keep this iconic street at the heart of the story of Glasgow’s people and place.”

Glasgow City Council is injecting £115 million into its Avenues project, which aims to regenerate the city centre's "Golden Z" which comprises Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street.

As part of that, Sauchiehall Street will see £5.7 million for a revamped new precinct at the Rose Street end, with improvements stretching up to West Nile Street.

The works on this project will also aim to deliver a "significant improvement" on Cambridge Street and the bottom of Sauchiehall Street.

Roads, pavements and footways on the streets will be reconstructed, with new kerbing, traffic signals, rain gardens and street lighting - with 40 new trees promised.