Plans to knock down former M&S to build student flats 'likely to go ahead'

Fusion Group, the firm behind the scheme, has said Glasgow City Council is minded to grant permission for the £76m redevelopment of the site.

Plans to knock down former Sauchiehall Street Marks and Spencer to build student flats ‘likely to go ahead’ LDRS

Plans to knock down the former Marks & Spencer on Sauchiehall Street and build student flats are now likely to go ahead.

Fusion Group, the firm behind the scheme, has said Glasgow City Council is minded to grant permission for the £76m redevelopment of the site, which will include 619 beds and retain the 1930s art deco facade.

Council leader Susan Aitken, SNP, said the scheme can be “a major catalyst in the regeneration of this famous thoroughfare”.

Councillors on the city’s planning committee turned down plans in November despite officials recommending they could be approved. 

They believed the scheme would be “harmful” to the surrounding conservation area and would “contribute to an over-provision of student accommodation” in the area. It was also claimed the first plan would have an “over-dominant impact” due to its height.

An appeal over that decision has been submitted to the Scottish Government by the developers, but revised plans were submitted in March.

Under the new scheme, which looks likely to be approved, the overall height of the development has been reduced by one storey. Facing onto Renfrew Street, the proposed building has been lowered by four floors.

Fusion Group has also increased the amount of “affordable” accommodation to 15%, with the aim of improving accessibility for students on low incomes.

The plans would re-establish an arcade link route from Sauchiehall Street to Renfrew Street and create 9,500 square feet of commercial space at street level.

Brodie Berman, senior acquisitions associate at Fusion Group, said: “We are delighted that our proposals for Sauchiehall Street have been minded to grant by Glasgow City Council.

“Having held longstanding ambitions to operate in the city, we are delighted to have reached this milestone, which will see £76m of investment injected directly into Sauchiehall Street at the heart of Glasgow’s city centre.

“Over the past 20 months, we have worked collaboratively with the council to develop a scheme that will make a positive impact on the local community, while also serving to address the shortfall of student beds in the city.

“Despite some challenges, our commitment to delivering a scheme that we truly believe will enhance Sauchiehall Street has been unfaltering, and we look forward to bringing our vision to life as we move to the construction phase of the project.”

In documents submitted to the council, Fusion Group stated there is a “clear demand-supply imbalance from full time students in Glasgow who potentially require, but are not able to access, purpose built student accommodation”.

They added the building would also be suitable for a “comparatively ‘light touch’ redevelopment” to an alternative use if “future social or market conditions necessitate”, suggesting it could become build-to-rent homes or a hotel.

Cllr Aitken said: “An investment bringing hundreds of new residents, commercial opportunities and public realm enhancements to Sauchiehall Street can be a major catalyst in the regeneration of this famous thoroughfare.

“Our city centre is changing. Its long-term, sustainable future needs more mixed-use developments and more people living there, and I’m particularly pleased to see the inclusion of affordable accommodation within the plans.

“The collaboration between Fusion and the council to address the planning committee’s initial issues have ensured the revised plans not only improve on the original application but they can be genuinely transformational for the city centre.”

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: “We are encouraged Glasgow City Council is minded to grant approval to reuse our former store on Sauchiehall Street.

“Delivering long-term activity on the site, the proposals align with our estates renewal strategy and will enable us to make further investment in Glasgow city centre over the coming years.”

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