More than 100 flats with a roof terrace and public courtyard can be built on a Glasgow car park — despite fears over the future of a popular music venue and the loss of open space.
Artisan Real Estate’s controversial bid to develop the Ingram Street site in Merchant City, currently owned by one of the council’s arms-length firms, City Property, has been approved by Glasgow’s planning committee.
Merchant City and Trongate Community Council wanted to turn the land into a park, and over 140 objectors opposed the plans, raising concerns over the loss of 21 trees and the impact on the neighbouring City Halls and Old Fruitmarket.
But planning officials had recommended the scheme could go ahead and, after a split decision, the casting vote from planning chairman, councillor Ken Andrew, meant the project got the green light.
Artisan regional director David Westwater said the “innovative design” would “attract people back into the Merchant City” — creating “an attractive and accessible space to live, visit, work and enjoy”.
However, Tam Coyle, the community council chairman, said the council had “ruined the last remaining opportunity for a community park in the very heart of the city”.
“It’s ironic since Glasgow was host of the COP26 summit and its leaders have regularly spoken about how determined they are to boost the greening of the city,” he added.
“This decision, waved through on the casting vote of one person, is a travesty. It sends absolutely the wrong signal about Glasgow council’s long repeated mantra of wanting a greener environment for its citizens.”
The car-free development will range from four to seven-storeys and contain 109 flats, with a publicly accessible courtyard and private rooftop gardens, which Artisan has said will create a “green oasis”.
The firm has also promised a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments, with energy-efficient air source heat pumps and high levels of insulation, and up to four ground floor units, suitable for leisure, office, retail or restaurant use.
One of the objectors, Bailie Christy Mearns, who represents the Anderston/City/Yorkhill award, told the planning committee the site was “the very last opportunity to provide a meaningful open space for residents, families and children in an area deprived of it”.
She said a “vital green lung” would be lost and replaced with a “very narrow site” which “will almost certainly be entirely shaded” and will look more private than public.
Lindsay McIntyre, a director at KSG Acoustics, said she had been “deeply concerned since the inception of these proposals about the adverse effects on the old Fruitmarket and City Halls as a result of placing new noise sensitive dwellings within such close proximity”.
She believed it could lead to future complaints from residents and urged the committee to ensure the development was “fit for purpose”.
Glasgow Life, which runs the venues, had said it is “vital” that “sufficiently robust acoustic design” was considered”.
Council officials insisted “appropriate safeguarding conditions” were in place and environmental health staff had been satisfied.
Clive Wilding, property director at Artisan, said sound tests had been carried out to “a specification agreed with the tenants of the adjoining building”.
Councillor Andrew said he believed there was a “relatively robust condition” to deal with “the issue of noise mitigation”.
He added: “I think on balance this looks like a high quality development, a good deal of thought has gone into both the palette of materials and the green space both in the courtyard and on the upper floor of the building.”
Councillor Hanzala Malik backed an amendment from councillor Eva Bolander to refuse the application. “I think the loss of 21 trees is a very high price to pay,” he said.
“I would not want to see the loss of that space and those trees, and also the development isn’t really reflecting the historic buildings in that area.”
Bailie Patricia Ferguson, who also voted against the plan, ensured an extra condition was attached to alter the material used on two sides of the development. She said she would prefer sandstone “where it abuts the City Halls and the Fruitmarket”.
She added: “I have to take the experts’ view about the noise mitigation, I sincerely hope that it will be successful.”
After the meeting, Mr Westwater said Artisan was “looking forward to our vision for this brownfield site in the heart of the city becoming a reality”.
He added: “As well as building sustainable and energy efficient new homes, we are also creating a variety of green, open spaces which will provide a rich, natural experience for both residents and visitors alike, with interlinked pathways and accessible seating areas.”