There’s a little detail in my favourite bar in Glasgow that’s pretty much all that’s left of a large, disappeared part of the city and if you’ve been to Cafe Gandolfi, you’ll have seen it for yourself, brushed past it maybe, sheltered under it, or lingered nearby waiting for a taxi. Chances are though: you had no idea of its significance.

What I’m talking about is Cafe Gandolfi’s rather handsome revolving door: beautifully made, highly polished, and capable – because of a long-gone joiner’s skill – of being folded back to let in the air. The doors are still a thing of beauty but for me there’s always a melancholic air to them as well because those doors once belonged to the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross.

You may already know what happened to the Grand Hotel, particularly if you’re over 50. The hotel was one of the victims of the M8: demolished to make way for a new, great road in the 1960s when we thought the car was the future (don’t we still think that, secretly?) The door was saved and incorporated into Café Gandolfi, but the bulldozers spared little else and 50 years later the road is still there, a wound unhealed.

Sadly, reversing the mistake of the M8 is not possible, but perhaps we can apply a bandage. The UK Government is just about to make a decision on the next phase of its Levelling Up funding and there’s a good chance that some plans for one part of the M8 will get the cash. I hope so.

I first heard about the plans when I was writing about the state of Sauchiehall Street and to some people they might seem strange at first – who looks at the M8 and thinks: what that thing needs is a hairy roof? But in effect, that’s what would happen: a section of the motorway between Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street would get a cap or roof and on the roof would be grass and trees and walkways – a garden or park effectively.

One obvious inspiration for the plans is the High Line in New York and it’s not a bad one: not only would the park be a shot of green in an otherwise grey part of the city, the roof would contain some of the fumes and nasties from the cars. It would also give the area what an architect talking to me about Sauchiehall Street called the “linger effect” – in other words, there would be a reason to stop and stay rather than rush on through, the area flashing past in your rear-view mirror.

I think there’s also another compelling reason for the M8 cap. When I was speaking to people about Sauchiehall Street – architects, historians, residents, businesspeople – they often mentioned the Finnieston area as an inspiration and with good reason. I used to live there in the 90s (when it wasn’t cool) but, thanks in large part to the Hydro, it’s now full of bars and quirky little shops and it’s thriving – no other word or it.

The slight problem is that the Finnieston effect ends at the M8 but perhaps the cap could be the answer. Once built, it would effectively link the city centre and the West and the potential benefits are great, with Sauchiehall Street seeing some of the effects Finnieston has seen. And God knows it needs it. I remember the landlord of one pub saying to me “I don’t know what’ll happen to this street if M&S closes” and now it has.

The cap isn’t a panacea – as I said, it’s more like a bandage – but it does fit the criteria for Levelling Up rather well. The raison d’etre for the scheme – and I accept some people think it’s just Tory guff – is that you invest in local infrastructure outside London that has a visible impact on people and their communities.

I can imagine that happening in Charing Cross, Finnieston, and Sauchiehall Street which still has pockets of deprivation and large parts of the kind of desolation created by office blocks, empty shops, and bargain-basement bars.

Will it happen? Well, we’ll know shortly whether the cap will get the cash it needs and I hope it does. I like the idea that, one day, we’ll be able to wander through, maybe stop for a bit of lunch, sit on the grass, and all of it on top of a motorway. Glasgow got it terribly wrong when it built the M8 50 years ago. But we can at least try to put it right. We can try.

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