Glasgow fights Braehead bid to be a 'town centre'

Glasgow wants to block Braehead being given 'Town Centre' status, amid concerns further expansion could affect city shops.

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Renfrewshire Council wants to designate the area dominated by the shopping mall as a town centre for planning purposes and increase the retail space.

However, Glasgow City Council has objected and says Braehead is not a real town centre because it lacks characteristics of diversity and accessibility.

There are concerns that even greater expansion at Braehead could lead to problems for the city centre and other traditional town centres within the city, such as Pollok and Easterhouse, and others outside, such as Greenock and Clydebank.

Scottish Planning Policy states: "To be identified as town centre a diverse mix of uses and attributes, including a high level of accessibility, should be provided."

Instead, Glasgow thinks Braehead meets the criteria for a Commercial Centre, which states: "They generally have a more specific focus on retailing or on retailing and leisure uses."

Glasgow says there is no evidence anything has changed to modify the status.

Glasgow city centre is in competition with out of town malls such as Braehead, which offer free parking and indoor shops.

The city centre, however, uses its diversity to its advantage and promotes the 'in town experience' of bars, restaurants and greater variety of shopping.

A report by Liz Cameron, city council spokeswoman for regeneration, said: "Significantly, the masterplan does not introduce the civic and community uses found in Glasgow's strategic town centres, including Pollok and Easterhouse, which otherwise resemble Braehead in the respect they include major mall type retail developments.

"It should also be noted the demand context for further retail development at Braehead has yet to be established.

"The lack of evidence on capacity means the expansion of retail floor space envisaged in the masterplan is likely to have significant impacts on other centres, including Glasgow, whose long-term future is described as fundamental to the economic well-being of the city-region."

"If Braehead is designated as town centre, it will establish a precedent. This could make it more difficult to resist proposals to redesignate other commercial centres that have a similar mix of retail and commercial leisure use, and could similarly adapt their layout to take on the appearance of a town centre, without the diversity of uses that are a fundamental element of the character of town centres."

A city council spokesman said: "We agree with the Scottish Ministers' assessment that Braehead lacks town centre diversity."

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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