Bids underway for £36m plan to 'breathe new life' into People’s Palace

Proposals to 'restore, reimagine and enhance' the People's Palace and Winter Gardens are set to be discussed.

Bids underway for £36m plan to ‘breathe new life’ into Glasgow’s People’s Palace STV News

Bids are being prepared to fund a £36m plan to “breathe new life” into Glasgow’s People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.

Proposals to “restore, reimagine and enhance” the complex to “deliver a new museum offer” will go before the city’s administration committee next week.

However, the project would require an estimated £35.9m in funding — allowing £7.9m for inflation and contingencies — and only around £5m has currently been confirmed.

Councillors will be asked to back a £7.5m application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund while Glasgow Life, the arms-length organisation running culture and leisure venues, would lead on efforts to secure £12m from “other public sector funders”. 

An £11m contribution would come from the council, which intends to identify funding “through capital planning across budgets from 2025/26 onwards”.

If funding bids are successful, initial work would begin early next year and the whole scheme is expected to be completed by autumn 2027.

Cllr Greg Hepburn, SNP, who represents the Calton ward which includes the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, said the complex has “a special place in the hearts of Glaswegians, especially those of us in the east end”.

He claimed it was “more than a bit unfortunate that in recent decades it wasn’t given the care and attention it demanded” but the SNP has been “totally committed to finding solutions”.

“It was also hugely disappointing that the Tory Government didn’t see fit to include it in the projects funded under its Levelling Up grants,” he added.

“I’m delighted to see the vision and the progress we’re making to restore it to its central place in the public life of Glasgow.”

The future of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens has been uncertain. The Winter Gardens had to close on health and safety grounds in January 2019 as a result of “its poor structural condition”, while “water ingress, plaster damage and ageing mechanical and engineering system” are putting the People’s Palace collection “at risk”.

A bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund was unsuccessful earlier this year.

A council report stated the proposals would “breathe new life” into “a venue held in large public affection and now in need of significant investment”.

They would would “preserve this nationally significant cultural heritage asset”, which was opened in 1898 to “provide a museum and cultural facility for the working class in the east end of Glasgow”.

Officials said the complex will be a “dynamic community-led museum and flexible space”, which will use “innovative digital technology” and “high-quality engaging experiences” to “celebrate the people of Glasgow and tell the city’s stories”.

Commercial opportunities, such as catering, retail and a “multi-purpose event/function offer” would be explored, as well as “increased commercial venue hire, conference hospitality, cultural commercial partnership and more integrated support for large scale events on the Green”.

It is planned to extend Glasgow Life’s lease to include the Winter Gardens and “landscaped areas to the immediate east and west of the venue”. 

“The incorporation of these spaces into the Glasgow Life lease agreement will enable wider community and commercial opportunities to be realised,” the report added.

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