PLANS to breathe new life into the civic heart of Glasgow have won the backing of city leaders.
Last night the Evening Times revealed council boss Gordon Matheson is to launch a consultation on plans for a £15million revamp of George Square to bring it up to an international standard.
He is to ask the public and a range of organisations the changes they would like to see in the area.
All ideas will be up for discussion – but the Cenotaph must stay and the red surface must go.
However, Mr Matheson has not ruled out moving the square's historic statues to new homes in city parks or restricting traffic and parking.
Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, believes the time is right for change.
He said: "Everybody knows the square is not right. It doesn't look good, doesn't feel good and isn't doing its job for the people of Glasgow.
"The square looks tired and is cluttered and there is no question it doesn't have a proper surface."
Mr Baxter believes the city should look at great squares around the world to find what works best.
He said: "The ideal scenario would be to clear everything and start again. It is not as if there was a systematic collection of statues for George Square.
"It was just a place where it was convenient to put them in times gone by and I am quite sure they would enhance other parts of the city. We should think of the square as a great room, the walls of which are the magnificent Victorian buildings which line it.
"We need something of sufficient dignity, starting with the floor surface and we need furniture that is moveable to give flexibility into the future."
Glasgow Taxis vice chairman Stephen Flynn said he would welcome the re-invention of the area.
He added: "George Square has the potential to be an even greater centrepiece for Glasgow, especially in terms of hosting events and attracting visitors.
"However, we would urge caution when it comes to considering radical changes to the transport system around George Square.
"Traffic in Glasgow city centre is bad enough without closing off any more streets.
"We would support a bus and taxi only system around George Square but firmly oppose any proposals to close down and pedestrianise any of the streets surrounding George Square."
Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, also suggested the statues should be moved.
He said: "The statues recognising the heroes of Glasgow's past are as relevant today as they were in their time but we need to consider whether their location in George Square is the most appropriate for them.
"The pedestrianisation of George Square, as opposed to an island surrounded by traffic, or a significant reduction in the volume of vehicles, would be welcome.
"The installation of the Olympic rings in George Square has seen hundreds of people every week queuing up to have their photo taken with them and I think this demonstrates the value of modern, interactive street art as an attraction for both locals and visitors."
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has also welcomed the area being given a new lease of life.
A spokesman said: "George Square should be presented as an inter-national standard public space with high-quality materials and some permanent attractions – perhaps sensitively including contemporary art that reflects Glasgow's prominence in that field in recent years.
"It should be fringed where possible by cafes and restaurants.
"The Chamber also keenly supports the use of the square for good quality events which attract people into the city centre and which demonstrate that Glasgow is well able to put on a good show.
"We are keen to minimise disruption to the traffic flow but recognise the benefits of taking traffic out of at least two sides of the square.
"Our intention is to support the consultation work of the council to give Glasgow a George Square of which it can be proud.
"If it can be done in time for the Commonwealth Games then so much the better."