The negotiations with Landsec - the head tenant of the Buchanan Galleries – are with a view to creating a new mixed-use quarter at the site.
Plans for the Galleries are still at the concept stage but the aim is for a project running from 2023 to2033 to create a net-zero, mixed-use retail, office, leisure and residential quarter for the city centre.
The proposals reflect changes in retailing, exacerbated and accelerated by the pandemic, and other city centre impacts and trends. The council said that, while the pandemic's impact has been severe on all urban centres, Glasgow city centre does remain an attractive location for investment with a number of major developments both on site and in the pipeline.
Glasgow City Council is the head landlord of Buchanan Galleries and Landsec, through its subsidiary, LS Buchanan Ltd, is the head tenant. Any comprehensive redevelopment of the Galleries would require the approval of the council in its capacity as head landlord.
The council is considering the use of Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) to support some of the major enabling works that would be required for the masterplan to be delivered. . TIF allows for a local authority to borrow over a 25-year period to deliver enabling works in the form of new and enhanced public realm and community infrastructure.
Proposed enabling works include construction of a capping over some, or all, of the north cutting of the railway line at Queen Street Station to create a platform for either a building or a public space, in addition to public realm works in and around the area. Progressing the cap will require Landsec to obtain consent from Network Rail, and discussions for this have begun.
The development would surround the void above Queen Street Station, giving the opportunity to create a new public space in the heart of the city centre. In Landsec's view, this forms an important component to the masterplan as it activates public space that could not otherwise be meaningfully, or viably, developed in the future. The idea will be investigated through the business case process and discussions will take place with Network Rail and Transport Scotland in relation to any impact on the station.
There is also an opportunity to improve the area around the Concert Hall steps at the top of Buchanan Street.
Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow, like town and city centres everywhere, is facing significant and accelerating structural changes. These initial proposals detail a response to those changes, ensuring Glasgow has a vibrant, successful and evolving city centre which continues to be the envy of our peers. Approval for the commencement of negotiations with Landsec would allow us to push ahead with addressing oncoming challenges and opportunities in this rapidly changing world. A 21st century city centre delivering on Glasgow's international standing and ambitions means more mixed-use developments, a greater residential population, more public spaces, sustainable transport options and more people-focused streets. The transformation of the Buchanan Galleries can be a vote of confidence on Glasgow's future.”