The first stage of plans to demolish St Enoch Centre to make way for a major new development has been approved by Glasgow City Council.
Developers Sovereign Centros want to knock down the shopping centre and create new retail, residential and office spaces, as well as a four-star hotel across nine blocks.
In a report, council officials said the “potential transformational benefits” to the city centre “cannot be underestimated”.
Demolition is to take place over four phases, with key buildings retained.
These are the A-listed Buck’s Head building, the B-listed former Debenhams and unlisted properties at 135-255 Argyle Street.
Plans stated the “repurposing can be delivered in a phased way that maintains some income and more importantly some vitality in the city centre”.
The application for planning permission in principle means more detailed proposals would need future approval before work can begin.
This will maintain “flexibility” for the site, allowing the project to “respond to future demands and market trends”, the developers said.
A planning application was submitted for the long-term project by Sovereign Centros, with the aim of sustainably developing the site over the next 15-20 years.
The masterplan application for the St. Enoch Centre redevelopment comes after a separate proposals were out for the demolition of Buchanan Galleries.
Those plans, set out by development company Landsec, would see work ongoing to replace the existing building with a mixed-use area.
It is estimated to take around ten years for the Buchanan Galleries redevelopment, if approved, with the work being slated to start in 2023.
A masterplan stated the redevelopment will provide “up to 2.5million square foot of floor space”, while an “indicative” breakdown showed there could be 160 hotel rooms and 802 flats.
Sovereign Centros is seeking a 20-year planning consent, however council officials have reported “given the potential for policy change throughout this period, ten years is considered to be appropriate”.
“The application represents a significant opportunity to repair part of the city centre that currently exists as a mainly inward facing block with little engagement or connectivity to surrounding streets,” the council report stated.
“Despite the extent of demolition proposed, the potential transformational benefits to the city centre in terms of re-population, placemaking, sustainability, air quality, biodiversity and health and wellbeing from the development, cannot be underestimated.
“It is therefore essential that the next stages in the planning process ensure a level of commitment and attention to detail to ensure the highest quality of outcome.”
The plans, submitted by the developers, stated it is “difficult to develop the existing building in a way that will significantly improve the area and its surroundings”, adding the centre is “not a valued or important structure in the local community”.
The application continued: “Driven by issues of sustainability, retail and consumer trends and local and national policy, the proposed development is a significant re-imagination of the St. Enoch Centre to become a sustainable, mixed-use development in the heart of Glasgow city centre.”
It is hoped the development would re-establish St Enoch Square as “a focal hub within the city”, making it a “place where people will want to dwell”, and provide a “leisure hub”, supporting “vibrant daytime and night time economies”.
Last year, Sovereign Centros received permission to transform the former Debenhams store on Argyle Street into offices with a rooftop restaurant, which the company said would safeguard the future of the building.