FRESH concerns have been raised that one of Glasgow's landmarks will vanish as plans are developed to demolish a flagship shopping mall to be replaced by a £800m "net zero, mixed-use" neighbourhood.

While no decisions have been taken, it has emerged that developer and site owner Landsec, which plans to pull down the 24-year-old Buchanan Galleries and linked park are planning to remodel the Concert Hall frontage and steps.

The third stage of consultation over the proposals to create 21st century mixed-use development including residential, retail, hotel accommodation, offices and hospitality is due to be launched on Thursday.

And one of Scotland's leading architects who has examined the most recent information over the plans that have so far emerged says the details provided including drawings do show that the Concert Hall steps are being removed. He says steps are needed to save the landmark which he describes as Glasgow's answer to the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Proposals being worked up include potential options for "reconfiguration" to deliver a "more accessible entrance" which would continue to serve as an outdoor gathering place for public activities and events.

The steps - a popular public gathering space, especially for protests - are said to be an "accessibility challenge" , blocking the extension of Sauchiehall Street.

One option involves creating a 'flush platform' with "some steps" for sitting on.

The developers say that all options for consideration would create a more accessible entrance to the concert hall.

Designed by Leslie Martin, the architect behind London’s Royal Festival Hall, the concert hall opened in 1990 as part of Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture.

The steps which also feature a statue of the inaugural First Minister of Scotland Donald Dewar became a popular meeting place.


Concerns surface that the drawings for the proposal appear to show a ramp instead of steps to the concert hall

The new plans come eight years after a previous project which would have seen the shopping mall double in size at a cost of £400m while removing the Concert Hall steps, was shelved.

Developers had to go back to the drawing board after the plans for the extension to the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre were at first approved despite a wave of protest against the demolition of the iconic steps.

The proposals received more than 300 letters of objection and a petition against the demolition of the steps garnered around 14,000 signatures. Even so councillors approved the scheme by 11 votes to four.

But the developer Land Securities said the scheme was to be put on hold.

Professor Alan Dunlop, who was vocal about his concerns for the landmark seven years ago said the proposals do show the removal of the steps and is calling for them to be saved.

He said: "They also indicate a new front to the concert hall, or remodelling as they say.

When the concert hall was designed, to get concert hall visitors up to the concert hall entrance level and above the mall gallery the steps had to be introduced.

"However, the steps are now a very important civic amenity, much used by the people of Glasgow and are an important part of the city's urban realm.

"I've no doubt the steps were also a fundamental part of Sir Leslie Martin's plans, for they heighten the visitors sense of moving up from 'ordinary' street and the ground level into an 'special' and important building, as many great concert and opera house buildings do throughout the world, in the classical tradition.

"So, I would absolutely disagree that the Steps are a problem, in fact they are one of the best contemporary additions to the city centre. The 'accessibility challenge' of the blocking of the extension may mean that they are a problem for the developer to deliver what they want for their own project."

The owner of the mammoth shopping centre, which has been working with the city council on the huge rethink plan to create new city centre region with shops, offices and homes has said that the public will have the right to have their say.

While still at the concept stage, proposals for the Galleries were to be delivered over 10 years from next year.

It was estimated that over 850 construction jobs could be created each year during the build phase leading to over 9,500 permanent jobs for the city centre.

Prof Dunlop added: "On a sunny day you can sit the with your lunch and look right down Buchanan Street, which many Glaswegians do. Their removal may benefit the developer and make it easier for shoppers and visitors to enter their buildings but not the people of the city.

"The sketches though very busy and confusing seem clear enough as far as the steps are concerned. The Concert Hall steps will be removed and replaced by a ramp that will take you to the south entrance of the concert hall.


"This will change Buchanan street and how Glaswegian use and work in the city. So, a crucial proposal like this to be considered properly and therefore the images put forward by the developer have to be clear and unequivocal."

The council, which says it is working with the developers, has previously said that the project will give the opportunity to "improve the area around the Concert Hall steps".

It said that would allow for the "physical reconfiguration of Buchanan Galleries, enhance the new streetscape, and deliver a more connected and permeable scheme resulting from the creation of improved pedestrian linkages between Buchanan Street and Killermont Street".

And it insisted that any development of this area would have to "reflect the history of this space as a resting point, and an area for event activity, protesting and other public activities".

A full planning application is not expected till later this year and it is was hoped that there will be decision by Glasgow City Council in late Spring.

Developers have said the earliest time for any on site activity would be early 2024.

A Landsec spokesman said: “No decision has been taken on the future of the steps however, we are progressing a detailed consultation with the community and local stakeholders to understand their priorities and need with a focus on delivering equal access for all. The third stage of engagement will start on the 26th of January, when we will share images of options for new public spaces for the community to comment on.

"Landsec’s vision for Buchanan Galleries is to replace the existing mall with a new, sustainable net zero, mixed-use urban district. This would transform the area by introducing flexible buildings and additional public space designed for retail, hospitality, business and residential use to meet the changing needs of local people, visitors, businesses, and the wider city.”