Meeting Minutes, 28 January 2020

28th January, 2020, at 7pm Glasgow City Chambers


Community Councillors:

Duncan MacLaren (Chair), Tam Coyle (V/C), Peter Hayman, Robin Jones, Niall McColl, Dr Eileen Mills & Chris Murphy.



Ex-Officio Attending:

Fife Hyland (DRUM Properties Group) and Alex Mitchell (Zander Planning). PC Hannah Mitchell

Elected Representatives: Cllr Eva Bolander and Cllr Angus Millar.

1. Welcome

Dr Duncan MacLaren (Chair), welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Apologies:Gerald Hirst, DH, MG, GW, PD, Baillie Christie Mearns-MacLeod and Lord Provost Philip Braat.

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The November 2019 Minutes were Proposed by Eileen Mills, and Seconded by Angela Petrie.

3. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

4. Treasurers Report

Treasurer Gerald Hirst has given his apology. The Chair reported that MCTCC funds as of 28th January 2020 stand at £1,756.69. The GCC Administration Grant of £418.13, after insurance, for this year has been paid into our account.

5. Police Report

PC Hannah Mitchell followed up the issue of vagrancy with the premises of the Q Park carpark, located between Candleriggs and Albion St. In December PC Mitchell and PC Boyd carried out a security survey and collected photo evidence. There remains a property management negotiation on how to fund measures to restrict access only to those who are authorized. The carpark is still being monitored.

There was no CCTV coverage in Parnie St where a car was vandalised in late November. The tent and its occupants located in Stockwell St, near the Casino, have moved on.

No crime report has been raised for the fire at the Hutchinson St building in its basement area close to the bins. The fire brigade confirmed the fire was started deliberately. The police could not ‘make a case’ as there was no CCTV footage, or any other evidence, to work with.

On the crime statistics there was a slight rise in the assaults over the festive break. This may be explained due to a larger number of people coming into the city centre.

A resident reported a problem with drug taking in their gated area, and within their stairwell. This then led to the issue of being able to arrange the safe disposal of used hypodermic needles. GHA and Environmental Health were contacted but neither would accept this matter being their responsibility. Thankfully, some persons unknown did come and dispose of the paraphernalia. PC Mitchell reported the Police were aware of this issue and frequent reconnaissance by plain-clothes police had been organised which would deter future trespassers.

A resident asked PC Mitchell if the number of CCTV cameras in the City Centre was known, including how many were working. PC Mitchell would have to make further enquiries to get an estimate of how many there are working and not working. It was confirmed that they are monitored twenty-four hours a day. If a crime report is raised, the police will contact the CCTV centre and they will send the relevant footage back. Footage is normally held for two weeks minimum.

There was a difference in opinion about the availability of crime statistics.

6. DRUM: Candleriggs Square Development – Fife Hyland and Alex Mitchell

They began the presentation by explaining how they have carried out two consultation events which received positively. The community have expressed relief that something is finally being built on the site which has lain derelict for over two decades. There are forty pubs and clubs around the area and they believe their designs will improve upon the mix of buildings in the Merchant City. Below the link to Drum Property Group (DPG) website for this development-

A landscape plan of the site was displayed detailing how the site had been divided into five large plots, each with its mixture of commerce, residential and hotel building types. DPG have two active planning applications for the Candleriggs site. One application for the whole site gives a general indication of what is intended to be built there. There may be changes nearer to the time when the land is built upon. The previous consent stipulated the whole site being developed at the same time.

The new layout will improve pedestrian access through to adjacent streets. There will be some vehicle access for utility and emergency vehicles. They will re-open a defunct access road which once connected Wilson St to Trongate.

A detailed plan for Plot A has been produced for the south-west corner, from Trongate up Candleriggs; there will be a 500-room hotel that includes a 15,000 sq. ft. business centre. There will two entrances to the hotel such that the public have a clear view from one entrance to the other. All the corners will be commercial for shops and restaurants with large glass frontages. The chemist will relocate back to its original site. A detailed design for Plot B is currently being drawn up which will include a large residential building.

Of the two existing buildings on Trongate, one is a Listed building. DPG has recently been granted permission for it and the second dilapidated building to be demolished by GCC. There is an archaeological survey being done at the moment prior to any work taking place.

The Avenues project for Stockwell St will start during the term of the construction. Hence the whole area will become pedestrianized by restricting traffic. Both projects will make the area a more pleasant urban environment for residents and visitors to the Merchant City area. DPG have incorporated ‘activity spaces’, multi-purpose areas within the site so that they can host events similar to those at the Merchant City Festival. Within the site, there will be shops, restaurants and cafés at street level, especially at corners. It is hoped to improve street experience in Hutchinson Street.

Further to the consultations DPG have changed the layout such that the buildings on the perimeter have lower heights. The taller buildings are now concentrated in the centre of the development. The new building on Wilson St is high so has been ‘set back’ from the street. This will improve the sunlight to the outer areas and improve views for existing residents.

Mr Hayman and Mr Jones enquired about the change in traffic flow. The Road Dept. are going reverse the flow of traffic on Bell St such that you can only turn left to go down the bottom of Candleriggs (to Trongate) and not continue on to Wilson St. The Scottish Archaeological Survey is currently on site to look for items of interest prior to any work beginning. All going well, DPG aim to start work on the site in April with the hotel completion to be in 18-24 months.

The Chair asked about the student accommodation on the site. MCTCC are opposed to any new student accommodation due to the over-supply of this in our area. The city centre has, since the building of the M8, had a low population density. It is the case that in order to deemed eligible for schools, surgeries and other common utilities the area will first have to increase its population. Hence, he was surprised approval for student accommodation had already been granted.

Mr Mitchell explained it was not a ‘student hotel’ as such, as anyone can stay there. It offers longer-term stays where some apartments will have use of a shared kitchen and increased use of other facilities. This feature would be equally appealing to groups of business people, visiting academics and groups touring Scotland. This is not easily done in traditional hotels and allows for increased flexibility.

Dr Mills asked if there would be a restriction on the number of students staying at the hotel. No restrictions were known of, and also students can stay at any hotel they wish to, Mr Mitchel replied. There are ten of these hotels in Europe – this will be the first in the UK. More details are available on the website.

Cllr Millar was doubtful at first if this kind of hotel would be appropriate in this locale; however, he was becoming more encouraged the more he understood about the operating model. It remains to be seen how it will work in practice. Mr Mitchell said DPG had been granted planning permission to build student accommodation on the site; however, they have decided not to, and want to be ‘up front’ about what their plans are with the community and other stakeholders. Mr O’Malley asked if it was, in anyway, similar to a hostel. Mr Mitchell has stayed in one the chain’s hotels in Amsterdam and found it to be like any other hotel, although its modern decor may attract younger guests.

The Chair thanked Fife and Alex for their presentation.

7. Councillors’ Reports

Councillor Eva Bolander recently undertook a walk around the High Court area where there has been a proposal for student accommodation mooted. On this issue, she has previously discussed how new legislation is anticipated to become statute soon. Cllr Millar and she have been pushing to get this in place.

There is a GCC Consultation ongoing to start an exclusion zone for any new student accommodation in the north of the city including the Merchant City, Townhead and Cowcaddens areas. However, the proposals are also considering where student accommodation would be beneficial. Due to the good transport links into the city, they do not necessarily need to be built close to the universities. This will come out for formal consultation in the near future.

A current consultation underway is the The Living Strategy. One of its priorities is to increase population and communities in certain areas. As per the previous discussion, she advised MCTCC to make a formal response. There have been many reports about littering which have been attended to. It was noted on a survey of the area that the streets are looking cleaner now than in the past.

The short-stay lets in Candleriggs has had complaints. A couple of flats have stopped offering short term lets there, it is understood that several building owners are in discussions about reducing the number of short-term lets as well as the conditions imposed by their letting agents. Forthcoming changes in the planning legislation will see an increase of the fines imposed. It is due to implemented before the end of this year. Likewise, the Scottish Government will publish a report recommending a licensing system for all short-term stays in Scotland.

Councillor Angus Millar continued on from Cllr Bolander’s report. On the issue of student accommodation, there is a proposal to see an ‘exclusion zone’ to stop further buildings of this type. There is over-provision is the City Centre and Yorkhill areas. There are clearly other areas, such as the West End and Jordanhill, where there is more than the desired number of students in short-term lets than long-term residents.

There are a number of measures in the policy to better define this ratio by stipulating future changes to buildings would ensure a mix of tenure, and not be all students’ flats within one building. If there is a low population density in a community, and there is an increasing number of students living there, they could soon become the majority, and then this area would be considered to be added to the exclusion zone. The Living Strategy Consultation aims to achieve the right balance to establish a mainstream community to develop through a more robust approach to ensure a proper mix in residents.

We have included a new statement that developers will have to detail their ‘Demand Statement’ why there is a need for new building type. This will include consulting with academic institutions to confirm, or deny, if there is need for its intended use. As Cllr Bolander said, there will not be ‘blanket ban’ of future student developments because there are areas still able to benefit.

The Living Strategy consultation sets out GCC plans for mainstream residential communities in the City Centre. He would very much encourage people to add their views to this.

The Avenues Project consultation for Stockwell and Glassford St closes on the 9th of February. It includes road and street furniture improvements. It is clear to see there are immense changes coming to the centre of Glasgow in the next five years. Included in this is the new George Square plans recently published. People had said mainly two things: they wish a place to simply spend time, and secondly for a reduction in traffic. In the summer there are sporting events planned which will reduce traffic around George Square.

As such, the new plans propose a new traffic model that will see the two longest lengths (north and south) of road around the square limited to buses and taxis only. The shorter sides, east and west, will be fully pedestrianized. There is a further consultation to take place; however, the design process will start later this year with contracts being signed. Cllr Millar requested today that residents should still retain access to all existing amenities.

Mr Hayman asked about if there was a mechanism for the public to see TRO notifications. Cllr Eva advised that these often come from the developers rather than the planning department, and suggested this was brought up at the CCDS meetings on Saturday mornings. On the Avenues project, it would be useful to have some specific details. Cllr Millar replied the final details will become available once the consultation is complete. He advised people to get involved early in order to influence the design.

8. Merchant City Festival

Then next meeting is in February and Vice-Chair, Tam Coyle, will be attending.

9. Planning Applications

No further planning applications were discussed. Mr Tam Coyle wished to thank the Planning Dept. for extending the closing date of the DPG application from the 13th January to the 3rd of February to allow for MCTCC to debate the latest planning application.

10. Licensing Applications

No licensing applications were discussed as none was controversial.

11. Merchant City Park

Due to time constraints within the meeting, this report has been deferred to the February meeting, and will be placed further up the agenda.

12. Defibrillator update

An initiative between GCC and St John’s Ambulance plans to install defibrillators throughout the City Centre. The Chair will write to the group and request that one, or several, are located within, and close to, MCTCC areas of interest. MCTCC funds do not now need to be spent on defibrillators for our area.

13. New Community Councillors

Two candidates have put themselves forward to become Community Councillors, Daniel O’Malley and David Cowan. The paperwork will be filled out and given to CCRC to be taken forward. Elections will take place at the next MCTCC meeting on 25th February.

14. AOCB

There was no AOCB.

Date and Venue of Next Meeting:

Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 7 pm, Committee Room 2, Glasgow City Chambers.

Action Points

  1. PC Hannah Michell to give the email of Chief Inspector Henderson to the Chair of MCTCC and to report back on the number of functioning CCTV cameras in the MCTCC area.
  2. MCTCC to identify areas/businesses within our boundaries to host defibrillators and pass them on to John McCullagh (City Centre Regeneration, GCC).