APPROVED Merchant City & Trongate Community Council (MCTCC) Minutes, 28 September 2021

Online Conference by Zoom
Tuesday 28th September, at 7pm

Attendance

Community Councillors:

Duncan MacLaren (Chair), David Cowan (Secretary), Peter Hayman, Gerald Hirst (Treasurer), Eileen Mills and Scott Thornton.

Residents

SW, EM, AL, GA, DK, DW.

Elected Representatives:

Vice Lord Provost Christy Mearns, Cllr Eva Bolander, Cllr Angus Millar.

Ex-Officio:

Simon Scott, Darren Andrew and Sara Cockburn (BIG Partnership), Ruth Suter (Glasgow Times).
 

1. Welcome by the Chair

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting including those residents here for the first time.

2. Apologies

Received from: Lord Provost Philip Braat, Sgt. Philip Showell, Tam Coyle (V/C), Daniel O’Malley and GW.

3. Minutes of the last meeting (31st August, 2021)

The minutes were proposed as a true representation of the meeting by Gerald Hirst and seconded by AL.

4. St. Enoch’s Masterplan – Simon Scott, Darren Andrew and Sara Cockburn

Simon Scott gave an overview of the St. Enoch’s Masterplan. It is a radical redesign of the lower city centre that will create mixed use developments i.e. retail, leisure, entertainment, and city centre living. It covers 2.5million sq ft of office space, including 1700 residential homes, a hotel with 290 rooms, entertainment venues and community space for different uses.

The Debenham’s building will be refitted to include commercial, retail and office space at ground level. A priority is to improve links from the city centre down to the River Clyde for pedestrians as well as east to west which, at present, do not exist. This will result in better trading environments fit for the future. The design will make use of the principles outlined in the City Living Strategy, aka 20 minute neighbourhoods.

Darren Andrew explained how the redevelopment will have open streets, aligned with Glasgow’s existing urban fabric. Two key historic north/south connections will be reinstated making Maxwell St and Dunlop St accessible to the River Clyde. These were blocked in the past, most recently when St. Enoch Centre opened in the 1980s. Aligned with city grid block layout, the streets will be easier to navigate. The new layout is designed to link-in with The Avenue Projects on Broomielaw, Stockwell St and Glassford St.- as well as the new King St development

The public realm will be pedestrianised with generous street widths to allow for comfortable movement, outdoor eating and sitting. It will have landscape features, activities, restricted vehicle access meaning that delivery vehicles will only be able to visit key locations during early morning and evening set times.

There will be an ongoing environmental impact assessment of the new proposals. The project will adhere to the requirement to make Glasgow carbon neutral in nine years (2030). Hence the design team will minimize CO2 emissions by ensuring low impact construction methods and materials are used. Construction waste will be minimised and recycled as much as possible.

The new building and landscape design aims to support Glasgow’s local economy in terms of increased jobs during development, increased footfall and spending. It will enhance the considerable night time economy and so generate business rates and council tax for the local community. Finally it will create a positive legacy for the surrounding areas.

There are two public consultations, one is this week and more to be held in November.

The BIG Partnership are having ongoing pre-application discussions with the GCC to help steer the project. They are expecting to submit a draft planning application in December 2021, and the whole Masterplan in the summer of 2022. Demolition of the St Enoch’s centre will be done in 4 to 5 phases of construction allowing for continued use of the centre

Questions

SW enquired if social housing is being considered; if so, if this was not just for the Debenham’s building but also the space where the St Enoch Shopping Centre sits? She also asked where the residential access points to the Debenhams building might be located.

Mr Scott responded that access would be located to serve both lower upper levels, north / south connections and east/west all would have access at ground level. Access points to Debenham’s will change; activity will flow along ground level, existing buildings will be reused, not knocked down.

Peter Hayman agreed with the removal of car ramps in the south side of the development to open-up the route to the river. He commended design team for committing to pedestrianise the St. Enochs area. Other issues will can be brought-up at the consultation stages.

Cllr Christy Mearns wanted the designs to give careful consideration of how they will mitigate the carbon footprint caused by demolishing St. Enoch’s and putting up its replacement. What renewable technology will be used to improve the final performance targets?

Mr Scott responded that it is understood they will have to build differently from the past in a sustainable way, re-purpose steel, concrete and glass from the demolition and reduce any disposals. They will be selective of the building material used to create buildings that are not energy-hungry and so that people can travel but produce as few carbon emissions as possible. Targets wise, they are still developing the designs. The project covers 15-20 years so new technology will improve making a greener environment around the city.

5. Matters Arising from the Last Minutes

The Chair asked the Deputy Lord Provost about establishments clearing up cigarette butts and other litter around pubs and casinos at John Street and Glassford Street.

Report about a stolen inner bin and spillage at St Enoch square: the mess has now been cleared thanks to the action from Cllr Bolander. Cllr Mearns has raised the matter with the Licensing Board to ask if they could encourage pub owners to tidy up cigarette litter. John Street was mentioned as a hotspot.

The repeating eight week licence application by Keasim Events Ltd for an open air club up to Christmas time was questioned if this was a suitable application type. It is understood not to be conducive with fair practice to the surrounding businesses who provide a somewhat similar service. Peter reported updates on an application by Keasim Events Ltd for use of land occupation for two years.

Cllr Mearns, who is on the Planning Committee, will raise the matter of repeating eight week licensing applications with the Licensing Committee for redress and to consider if these are undermining authority. She will also notify MCTCC of other streets with similar application types.
 

6. Report from the Treasurer

Gerald Hirst reported there were no expenses this month, and so the MCTCC bank balance remained £1,322.25.

7. Police Report

Sgt. Philip Showell sent his apologies tonight. David Cowan read out the email containing the main points a report Sgt. Showell sent beforehand. He has done some research (see link below) on the status of ‘Acoustic Cameras’ at Eileen Mills request. He found they are currently being evaluated at the UK Government level. The concept has found support from many communities.

However, it should be noted (from a legal perspective) that they do not ‘exist’. That said, it looks like ‘approved’ technology may not be far away. It could be these devices may be Government / Local Government led – like Road Safety Camera Partnership (speed cameras) or Bus Lane Cameras/Red light Cameras.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/roadside-vehicle-noise-measurement-study-enforcement-and-technology

8. Elected Members Reports

Cllr Eva Bolander recommends that, for reporting issues to GCC, it is worthwhile for the public to use MyGlasgow mobile phone ‘app’ for reporting issues of litter and has many other uses. Niall McColl will post the android and apple app links on the MCTCC website. This is also a good way of tracking the repair of faults by the public and for Councillors to be able to monitor the repair process:- https://mctcc.scot/news/2021-09-myglasgowapp/

Most of the Spaces for People program, whereby the footpath space has been increased, was recently approved to become permanent features city-wide. The only exception to this is the Gordon Street installation.

The Police and local community councils have taken part in workshops looking at how to improve the ‘Four Corners’. This is junction of Argyle Street, Union St and Jamaica St which has been raised as a place which needs improvement to alleviate crowds and anti-social behaviour.

The Meet the Waterfront walks have now been opened up to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week, as well as a chance to meeting the design team Tickets can be found on the Eventbrite website and will embark from The Briggait.

Response to Ropeworks Lane planning application hearing:
Cllr Bolander reported the Ropework Lane planning application Hearing was held today, 28th September, and was narrowly approved due to the casting vote of the committee Chair.

This approves demolishing the Annie Millar pub building, to be replaced with 18 short stay apartments. There were sixteen letters of objection to the original application in May. Among the concerns raised was a lack of restricted access at the rear of Carrick Quay where there is a particularly narrow lane and includes a right angle junction to the entrance of the Carrick Quay carpark. Also mentioned was the loss of privacy and direct sunlight on Carrick Quay and the effect on the adjacent conservation area.

DK questioned if the developer architects, Big Top Productions, gave the full facts to the Hearing committee. For example, the distance from the perimeter of the Annie Millar pub to the Carrick Quay is no more than 7m, and not 22m as was stated. This was flagged up at the meeting but had no bearing on the outcome. She contacted the Ombudsman today about this. The Chair recommended writing to the Chair of the planning committee and/or the Head of Planning Department expressing concerns.

Cllr Bolander noted how the corresponding planning report, in front of the planning committee today, can be analysed for errors. A Judicial Review can be requested; however, it is known to be a complicated process, although help can be sought from the Planning Democracy charity. She will see if there are any further ways, however, as SW raised recently, there is no third party right to review for disputed planning matters in Scotland.

Scott Thornton thanked Cllr Bolander who, at the meeting, proposed the application be dismissed. He commended the input from the Carrick Quay Owners Association. It was noted that the planning committee did not look into the purpose of the proposed premises which has been mentioned in the media.

Cllr Millar has a meeting with The BIG Partnership tomorrow morning along with Cllr Bolander and they are looking forward to finding out more about the design plan discussed earlier. George Square is capitalizing on the benefits of the increase pedestrianisation due to the Spaces for People. People are enjoying the improved environment.

The Riverfront Strategic Development Fund, which extends from Glasgow Green all the way to Partick, is now available to view. Part of this project will suggest ways in which the river can be used as a resource, as it has not been for many years.

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=49640&p=0
He will email the Chair regarding arranging a walking survey with members of MCTCC.

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns had a site visit to John Street after residents complained to her about the mess left by contractors. This included a missing grate, missing bollards and a missing statue. There was also stonework that had been poorly repaired and weeds left at the base of the trees.

The Area Partnership, as mentioned at the last meeting, has still funding for improving greenery available. Although such funds often go to Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas, she has put forward a suggestion for funds to be considered for the city centre where there is very little greenery.

She has requested traffic enforcement again of southern Candleriggs, and that a Temporary Traffic Order (TRO) be introduced to test the pedestrianisation of the Merchant City.

For the St. Enoch’s Masterplan project it is requested that The BIG Partnership keep her, and the public, and other elected representatives up to date as to how their plans are progressing.

Questions to Elected Members

Niall McColl asked if the planters were going to be maintained through the winter and not allowed to become fallow, which experience has shown, soon fill up with debris.

He noted that seating by public houses / restaurants takes up all the paving space. This has led to accessibility problems for everyone and more so those with mobility issues.

Finally, Councillor Millar will enquire about the continued pavement parking on Candleriggs, which has been alleviated by the scaffolding currently in place, Cllr Bolander will raise the issue of traffic enforcement once more and this will be passed to GCC’s parking attendants. Cllr Millar agreed with the points and will look into these issues at the survey next week.

Eileen Mills commented, following a discussion around funding for SIMD areas, that over the past three years of being involved with the Community Council she had become aware of a recurring theme of Glasgow City Council/the Scottish Government, with regard to interpretation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, being more likely to engage with/support projects for ‘disadvantaged’ communities than ‘less disadvantaged’ communities. This did not seem to be a fair or accurate interpretation of the purpose of the Act.

Peter Hayman noted that our area does not have any community areas or places for groups to meet and socialise for that matter. The Chair suggested that definitions of deprivation have to be refined and not include solely SIMD areas since aspects of vulnerability exist in all communities, such as loneliness and mobility difficulties.

9. Planning Applications

Peter Hayman reported how the Candleriggs Festival Village developers have applied for a two year licence, retrospectively.

Other than the St Enoch re-imagining, there were no significant planning applications to report.

The Chair, and Peter noted that the change in the planning application notification system has not resulted in a more user friendly format and it is harder to see the current state of applications.

Niall McColl enquired as to the status of Jocelyn Square development as there has been no updates for some time now. Cllr Bolander noted that the Judicial Review had put many conditions on the application and perhaps this has required their application to be re-submitted. Cllr Millar made enquiries in June. It was mentioned that because the Scottish Government appeal was upheld, this may mean that a different application is required. He will make enquiries and feedback at the next meeting.

10. Licensing Applications

Tam Coyle, who could not be present, had distributed licensing applications to community councilors throughout the month.

11. Establishing a ‘Friends of Ramshorn’ Group

Duncan MacLaren, The Chair, made the case for setting up a ‘Friends of the Ramshorn’ Group’. This was discussed among Duncan, Angus, Tam and Eva along with a council officer in charge of these groups, before the pandemic. Residents have no say in what happens in the churchyard.

There are plans to open Ramshorn graveyard, one of the oldest burial grounds in Glasgow, and has been closed since the start of the covid pandemic. There are plans to opening this as a ‘contemplation area’ before and during the time of COP26.

Ramshorn Church was sold to Strathclyde University [now the Confucius centre and admin offices]. The graveyard lands are owned by the Council and ultimately the people of Glasgow and, as has been reported upon earlier, the Strathclyde University lease is coming to an end. The Chair gave a summary of the history of the site and a list of benefits which this new group hoped realistically to achieve. These are listed in the APPENDIX A at the end of these minutes.

The Chair suggested that a Steering Group be setup to explore the idea further and to see how the residents respond, with the help of Niall and social media to advertise the new group.

Cllr Eva Bolander approved the establishment of this group and cited similar groups she had been involved with. She would like group to grow as it would sustain another public space for people to go to. It would also raise awareness of Glasgow’s history, however controversial.

Cllr Angus Millar added the new group would provide an opportunity for the local residential community to support its heritage and, hopefully, spur more potential interest from heritage organisations.

Eileen Mills was not against the formation of the group, but was not excited about it either.  As atmospheric graveyards go she puts it in the doom and gloom category; a ‘dark’ space with a single narrow entrance/exit, which on a personal level inspire security concerns, containing the graves of many with a dark history.

The Chair said a number of interested residents have offered to support the Friends group. There was no opposition to setting up a steering group, and members can look at details on the brochure in readiness for discussion at the October mid-monthly meeting.

12. Merchant City Park (MCP) Update

Eileen Mills and others were interested to know why the Ingram street Car Park had recently been partially levelled and resurfaced with tarmac when it has been sold pending planning application approval, and who has authorised this resurfacing. Also, why now, when for decades the appalling condition of the surface has been ignored. The Ward Councillors present did not have answers but it was suggested that it might have been undertaken by NCP.

Peter Hayman thought this would be unlikely as he understood that, over the years, NCP had wished to improve the site but were constrained by short term leases. Councillor Eva Bolander said she would try find out why it is has been resurfaced that this very late stage. It was considered that this resurfacing might be connected in some way with COP26. In continuing support for an MCP development Peter Hayman reiterated that there was no meeting place in the Merchant City for residents.

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns has recommended to GCC that Ingram St carpark be made into a green area, despite recent, well documented, developments. Peter Hayman thanked her for official recognition of MCP objectives.

Peter Hayman has written a letter to the Herald on Sunday quoting the words from leader GCC Leader Cllr Susan Aitken who, referring to COP26, supported green space for all. He was pleased the scaffolding at the Fruit Market and City Halls had not impacted on the Mural. Eileen Mills said that there were several points of contact but hoped that they would not have caused any damage.

13 MCTCC Social Media

Niall McColl reported that he had created a new part of the mctcc.scot website dedicated to number of large-scale projects that will affect our area in the near future. Titled ‘Transforming Merchant City and Trongate’, it shows the planning stage of six major plans and details each with artist impressions of the what they are envisioned to resemble when built.

He reminded members they can attend consultations of two of these projects this week:-

  • St Enoch development – Design Team will be in the shopping centre on Friday 1st October at Millie’s Cookies
  • Meet the Waterfront – Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th. at the Briggait

The Chair commended Niall for posting so much useful information on the webpage, Twitter and Facebook.

13. Addressing Local Issues

The Chair introduced Scott Thornton’s new poster design text, which was read out to those in attendance, and was approved. Scott believes that MCTCC should involve businesses on shared interest matters, of which there are many. He made the point that community council and business community are on the same side not opponents. In this area it should be noted they make up part of our community also. It is hoped that these ‘fliers’ will be handed out to local businesses once they have been printed.

David Cowan praised The Neighbourhood and Sustainability Team, led by Denise Hamilton for cleaner streets and many other works. He has noticed an improvement to the ambiance in the City Centre which is being enjoyed by shoppers and students returning to Glasgow.

14. AOCB

An email was received from Steven Dowling to notify us that voting for new office-bearers will take place at an AGM in October 2023. However, it was noted that there will be a short AGM this October and anyone among community councillors is free to stand for office-bearer positions.

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting: 

Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 26th October, 2021 at 7pm
A Zoom link will be circulated for registration.

Action Points

  1. Raise the matter of repeating eight week licensing applications with the Licensing Committee for redress and to consider if these are undermining authority and notify MCTCC of other streets with similar application types (Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns)
  2. Post the android and Apple app links on the MCTCC website for reporting issues of litter etc. with the Council (Niall McColl)
  3. Investigate other ways of fighting against the decision to approve the planning application for the future of the former Annie Millar’s pub (Cllr Eva Bolander)
  4. Email the Chair regarding walking surveys with members of MCTCC (Cllr Angus Millar)
  5. Raise the issue of parking on pavements once more with the police and Council (Cllr Eva Bolander and Cllr Angus Millar)
  6. Make enquiries about the Jocelyn Square development and give feedback to the next MCTCC meeting (Cllr Angus Millar)
  7. To discover why sections of the Ingram Street car park was being resurfaced and who authorised this resurfacing. (Cllr Eva Bolander)
  8. Put the ‘Friends of the Ramshorn Group’ on the agenda of the mid-monthly meeting (Duncan MacLaren)

APPENDIX A – Establishing a Friends of the Ramshorn Group

  1. Tam Coyle, the Vice Chair of MCTCC and myself (Duncan MacLaren) met along with Cllrs Eva Bolander and Angus Millar the officer who deals with setting up of Friends Groups just before the pandemic at the City Chambers. We found the idea attractive and were interested in taking this forward within the Community Council.
  2. The Ramshorn Church (the Church of St David) was sold to Strathclyde University and it is now the site of the Confucius Centre but the Ramshorn Graveyard is owned by the Council (and therefore the people of Glasgow) which is negotiating with Strathclyde which held the lease over the graveyard for over 25 years in an ongoing dilapidations process.
  3. The Ramshorn is one of Glasgow’s older burial grounds and was used as a site of burial from 1719 to 1915. In the 20th century park areas were created and at the moment there are benches and recycling bins as well as paths around the graveyard. It has been closed for most of the pandemic period and this has become a source of annoyance to residents who regularly used it as a place to exercise, read, contemplate nature or their own mortality.
  4. Some of the reasons for a Friends group are
  • It would be an organisation to represent this neglected piece of Glasgow’s heritage;
  • It can work in partnership with the Council and other organisations to improve and develop the Ramshorn;
  • If the group became a charity, it could raise funds
  1. Some of the benefits of a Ramshorn Group is that
  • Historical interest: It contains the graves of some of the merchants whose names live on in streets like Glassford Street as well as the grave of the noted social reformer of the 18th century, David Dale. There is also a memorial to Sir John MacDonald who was the first Prime Minister of Canada.
  • In a time when our wellbeing is being emphasised, this provides a space in the middle of the City for fresh air and relaxation
  • It is a tourist attraction – during its closure tourist groups have been seen peering through the railings. I would remind everyone of how Pere Lachaise in Paris, the Jewish cemetery in Prague and Highgate in London are all tourist attractions.
  • A group could give residents’ input as to how to improve the graveyard. For example, the merchants of Glasgow are a controversial group because they were, of course, slave owners. Scottish historians like Sir Tom Devine have called for a museum about Scotland’s contribution to the slave trade. This graveyard could begin conversations about this part of Scotland’s and Glasgow’s past to enlighten current generations.
  1. The suggestion in the Council’s brochure about setting up a Friends group is to
  • Set up a steering group to guide the formation of the group along with assistance from, for example, the Friends of the Necropolis and the designated officer from the Council as well as local councillors.
  • This group would draw up a constitution and ultimately office bearers would be elected.
  1. The MCTCC area has very few community groups. We are even losing one out of our area soon as Greyfriars’ Gardens is going up a part of the High Street outside our patch. This is a chance to establish a community group for a very neglected part of our local history.