Good news at last for future of these Glasgow sites

WAITING for a bit of good news can be like waiting for a bus.

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You stand in the cold for what seems like months and two turn up at the same time.

Just that has happened in Glasgow in the past couple of days with two events which should result in the major transformation of a large part of the city centre.

Both come as the city is slowly beginning to climb out of the worst recession the country has endured for a generation.

On Wednesday, council leader Gordon Matheson and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander signed a deal which will see £1.1billion invested in infrastructure projects in Glasgow and surrounding areas in the next 20 years.

That money includes £199million for public realm improvements in the city centre.

Almost at the same time, a planning application was lodged for a £100million plus project which will transform a large, rundown area of the Merchant City.

The scheme will involve a hotel, flats to buy and lease, student accommodation, bistros and shops being built on a large site in the Trongate formerly owned by Selfridges.

In recent years, much of the city centre has had millions of pounds spent on new lighting, street furniture and rundown, patched surfaces being replaced by high quality Caithness granite setts.

Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street, a section of Argyle Street and the Merchant City have all benefitted from new public realm and now wouldn't look out of place in any grand European city.

But travel east from the pedestrian section of Argyle Street and it is a different story.

The area looks sad and tired with shops often failing to attract shoppers from smarter parts of town.

In the past, the council has tried to smarted up the area leading to the Tron but for a decade had to contend with the Selfridges site lying vacant and ugly.

Some shop bosses did attempt to upgrade their frontages but there was little incentive for developers to move in and spend millions with such a prominent site sealed off behind hoardings.

All of that is about to change and for the first time in decades there is a real opportunity to upgrade the missing link in the city centre.

The decision by global company Mace to spend more than £100m shows a confidence in the area and in Glasgow which is much to be welcomed.

And because of the City Deal investment, the city will have the cash to give the Trongate the facelift it badly needs.

That in turn will hopefully persuade other developers to invest in the area, finally bringing it up to the standard of the upmarket Merchant City it rubs shoulders with.

Local government

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