A RADICAL revamp of the city centre riverside area is to be planned to make it more attractive to both visitors and investors.
A new strategy to improve the area – now dubbed the St Enoch Quarter – is to be devised to connect the Clyde to the city centre and redevelop both banks of the river.
The area is considered rundown, with no reason for people to visit. This has sparked a development strategy which, it is hoped, will act as a catalyst to investment.
Council leaders and businesses have been frustrated that a number of ideas to develop the area have failed in recent years with many plans being drawn up but not followed through.
The vision for St Enoch Quarter is part of the wider City Centre Action Plan – reported in yesterday's Evening Times – to breathe new life into the city and help it to continue to compete with other European cities in the tourism, retail and conference trade businesses.
It is hoped to develop the riverside between the Glasgow and Victoria Bridges between Jamaica Street and Stockwell Street.
Liz Cameron, Executive Member for Development and Regeneration said the area has suffered as a result of the economic downturn of recent years,
She said: "The general area has been the subject of a variety of failed redevelopment proposals, principally as a result of the economic downturn since 2007."
Ms Cameron said while there are many owners in the area the council owns land at Custom House Quay on the north and Calton Place Gardens on the south bank, which is hoped to be turned into a riverside park location.
She added: "Today the general area, particularly the waterfront is physically isolated from the rest of the city centre and despite its prime riverfront location it remains to fulfil its potential.
"Similarly the streets round the site remain under used with vacant shops, unimplemented planning consents, vacant redeveloped sites and currently a diverse quality of environ- ment.
"There are limited active edges and staying opportunities.
"There is literally no reason for anyone to be attracted to or to stay at this general location."
The most recent proposal was for an Australian developer to create floating restaurants, shops, flats and office space at Custom House Quay, but the £200m plan fell through after the lead developer, Rodney Price, filed for bankruptcy.
Other investors expressed an interest in taking over the plans with major hotel groups showing interest, but were not taken forward.
The council is now considering proposals to improve the area and extend that vision along the river in both directions to the Glasgow Green area to the east and the Hydro and SECC in the west.
The strategy includes plans to:
lImprove existing – and create vibrant – public spaces at Custom House Quay to attract visitors residents and investors.
lIdentify development opportunities for commercial activity like kiosks and cafes.
lInvestigate water-based use and activities and promote events and festivals on the water and the banks.
lImprove public realm, lighting from St Enoch Square to the river and beyond.
lImprove accessibility to the riverfront walkway for walking cycling and river users.
Connecting the riverside to St Enoch Square, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street is seen as filling in a missing link in the city centre.
Ms Cameron and council officials said the key to success would be working closely with other partners like the Glasgow city Marketing bureau and businesses through the Chamber of Commerce.
Business leaders have been calling for action and investment in the area to attract new development.
Dealing with anti-social behaviour and some eyesore buildings has been listed as a must if the area into be made attractive again.
Stuart Patrick, chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said St Enoch Square is grossly under used and should have a much more prominent profile.
He said: "St Enoch Square should be the second public square in Glasgow after George Square. There needs to be action on some of the issues. The Subway redevelopment can help with the appearance of the station.
"The hostel is a problem and needs to be addressed. There is impressive architecture and there is outdoor cafe space."
As with the rest of the city centre, funding will remain a challenge and Mr Patrick said another Tax Incremental funding scheme (TIF) similar to one being used to fund works close to Buchanan Galleries and the Concert Hall could be a long-term option for St Enoch.