(Pic credit: Glasgow City Council)
By Gary Armstrong
Groundbreaking plans which could forever change Glasgow City Centre’s laneways have been released for public consultation.
Glasgow City Council is proposing to redevelop up to 90 inner city lanes and transform them into entertainment spaces which will include shops, restaurants and bars.
The idea, which takes inspiration from similar use of alley space in global cities such as Melbourne and San Francisco has been progressed by the council in conjunction with local artists, businesses, community groups, charities landowners and waste disposal services.
Glasgow lanes in their current form (Credit: Glasgow City Council)
A 92-page document outlining the proposals, which stretch from the far-end of Sauchiehall Street in the North-East of the City Centre to the boundary of Glasgow Green in the South-East is available on the Council website for local residents to put forward their viewpoints before any move is taken further.
Although the likes of Mitchell Lane and Renfield Lane are currently thriving, the Council believes the majority of laneways in the City have untapped potential for development and could boost Glasgow’s night-time economy.
A council spokesperson said: “The lanes network in the city centre is flourishing in some areas, but could undoubtedly be improved in others.
“The regeneration of these lanes would play a significant role in the ongoing transformation on the city centre, and this draft strategy aims to deliver that.”
Council planning officers travelled to Melbourne, San Francisco, Seattle and Montreal before formulating the proposal which gives detail about the history of Glasgow’s laneways while also citing their comparative abandonment in recent decades.
And Richard Brown, executive director of regeneration services for the City Council believes it is important for Glasgow to follow in the footsteps of successful transformations overseas.
Mr Brown said: “Often these intimate spaces suffer from a lack of active frontages, inadequate lighting, badly maintained public realm, low footfall, and in some cases these lanes function solely as external storage space for commercial bins.
“As a consequence opportunities exist for crime and antisocial behaviour
“Those lanes that have positively developed have often done so through a process of public-private partnership.
“These lanes often offer a range of commercial activities mostly located on the ground floor.
“The Lanes Strategy will seek to learn from international good practice, for example the cities of Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in Australia which have already undergone a successful regeneration of their city centre lanes, as have Colorado and Chicago in the USA, and Vancouver, Portland Oregon, and the City of Edmonton in Canada.”
The consultation document also reveals problems with crime and drug-use in the lanes, partly due to inadequate lighting and dereliction.
However, it is suggested more independent street-art, pop-up venues and festivals can help promote both public and private investment to re-invigorate many areas which have largely been left un-touched since the 1960s.
Glasgow City Council have also referred to the success of both Royal Exchange Square and Ashton Lane in the West End as they look further regenerate the City.
The public have until 2 June to give their response.