'Monument' bid to protect city square

THE clock is ticking over plans to have George Square named as an internationally significant monument site.

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The redevelopment plan for George Square was dropped at the last minute. Campaigners now hope to protect the square from future changes
The redevelopment plan for George Square was dropped at the last minute. Campaigners now hope to protect the square from future changes

A campaigner fighting to save George Square has lodged an application to register the area with the World Monuments Fund (WMF) in the hope of protecting it for generations to come.

The New York-based WMF launched its World Monuments Watch campaign in 1996, which calls international attention to cultural heritage at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political and economic change.

The WMF invites applications every two years and investigates each one before making a decision on whether or not a site should be listed.

The deadline for 2014 applications is this Friday, March 1.

At present, 686 sites have been listed in 132 countries, including the ruins of the former Coventry Cathedral and Lord Byron's ancestral home in Nottinghamshire.

Linda Mawson, who helped set up Save Our Statues, Save Our Square, is hoping George Square will be added to the list.

She said: "If the WMF considers George Square to be an iconic space, which I think it is, it will be registered on March 1, 2014."

Ms Mawson hopes a bid for protected status will prevent the city council opting to make drastic changes to the square.

Last year, an international design competition was launched for the re-vamp of the historic area. A shortlist of six designs was chosen, with Glasgow-born architect John McAslan, who runs a practice in London, being chosen as the winner.

But within minutes, city council leader Gordon Matheson said the multi-million pound project would not be going ahead.

He insisted the public were not in favour of major changes, such as the removal of the square's statues.

Instead, a relatively minor upgrade will be carried out which will include replacing the red surface.

Ms Mawson said: "Becoming a World Monuments Watch site would give George Square some protection."

Campaigners gathered around 4000 signatures calling for the redesign to be scrapped.

Ms Mawson said: "The square really does not look very nice at the moment and the red Tarmac is awful and is really looking very tired.

"All we are asking for is for the people of Glasgow to be consulted about what should happen."

On Monday, John McAslan and Mr Matheson met in the City Chambers following a request for a meeting from the architect.

A council spokesman said: "The leader met John McAslan to explain the administration's decision not radically to redesign George Square.

"He also confirmed the council will be going ahead with its planned refurbishment of the square."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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