BUSINESSES in Sauchiehall Street have voted over­whelm­ingly to transform it into a top Scottish entertainment destination.

Pubs, clubs, restaurants and arts venues on the non-pedestrianised section of the street were balloted on setting up a Business Improvement District.

That requires them to contribute the equivalent of 1% of their rateable values into a fund to improve the area.

Almost 60% of the 63 businesses affected voted in the ballot, with 92% of those in favour of the scheme. Legislation needed a turnout of only 25%.

Under the rules, firms that abstained or voted against the plan will still have to stump up their share of the cash, bringing in about £180,000 in five years.

Glasgow's first Business Improvement District (BID) will focus on the section of the street from Rose Street and Blythswood Street to Charing Cross.

The aim is to substantially increase the number of overseas and domestic visitors through high- profile marketing, a programme of events and by ensuring Sauchiehall Street is a cleaner, safer and inviting environment.

BID steering group chairman Brian Fulton, director of CPL Entertainment, which owns the Garage nightclub, said: "I could not be more pleased that businesses have supported the project's ambitions and voted in favour.

"Every big and successful city in the world has streets that are synonymous with entertainment and that is what Sauchiehall Street will become thanks to this decision.

"It was a famous place name in the past and it will be that again.

"The city centre entertainment sector is crucial to the overall success and vitality of Glasgow, a key factor for tourists coming here and for students deciding where to attend college or university."

Glasgow Chamber Of Commerce worked closely with businesses with frontages on the street to develop the proposal.

Stuart Patrick, the Chamber's chief executive, said: "It is great news.

"The Business Improve­ment District will give this key area a greater degree of attention. This is the first successful BID in Glasgow and it could now become a catalyst for more in other areas, such as the Style Mile and the pedestrian section of Sauchiehall Street, Argyle Street and Buchanan Street."

City council leader Gordon Matheson added: "It is very welcome that businesses are working together to enhance our reputation as an entertainment destination.

"With our city centre strategy and dedicated city centre regeneration team in place, we look forward to working with businesses and residents to continue to develop the city centre as a 'must visit' destination and as something Glaswegians can continue to be proud of."

It is hoped other firms will be encouraged to move into and invest in the area because of its new status.