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Go-ahead for giant Glasgow University masterplan

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AECOM and 7N Architects have received council backing for its masterplan for the expansion of the University of Glasgow’s Gilmorehill campus, in the face of local opposition

Councillors have approved planning permission for the proposals for a mixed-use development mainly on the 7.96 ha site of the former Western Infirmary in the city’s West End.

About £430 million will be spent on the project in the next five years as part of a wider £1 billion investment that includes refurbishments to the existing university estate.

Glasgow City Council received more than 340 objections to the scheme over concerns including the layout and design, loss of trees and it being contrary to the city’s planning policy.

A report considered by the council’s planning applications committee last month acknowledged that the retail element of the proposal was a ‘significant departure’ from the City Development Plan due to its scale and edge-of-centre location. But it added that ‘the economic benefits of the proposed development outweigh this departure’.

The proposed new development involves selective demolition of existing buildings on the Western Infirmary site to make way for up to 65,000m² of teaching buildings and up to 17,000m² of research buildings. Six listed buildings would be restored.

Additional buildings would include commercial research and development/office space, shops, financial and professional services, food and drink outlets, hotels, sports and recreation facilities, a nursery, a creche, flats, a data centre and an energy centre.

Phased construction could start this year, with all work estimated to be completed by 2035. The proposed development could create an extra 2,500 jobs and bring £130 million to the local economy, according to the planning committee report.

Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: ‘The decision to approve the masterplan is pivotal to allowing us to start this development. An initial financial envelope of around £430 million will be spent over the next five years on the first phase of the project.

’It is part of a wider £1 billion investment which includes significant spend on refurbishing and improving the existing estate. This will be one of the biggest educational infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history and is certainly the biggest development undertaken by this university since it moved to Gilmorehill 150 years ago.’

Ewan Anderson, managing partner of 7N Architects, said: ‘The masterplan is principally about making new connections, bringing the University’s colleges together, bringing the university and the city together and bringing people together to strengthen the university’s student experience, its global research profile and its contribution to Glasgow and beyond.

‘It is very satisfying to see the project reach this significant milestone and we look forward to seeing it evolve as an exciting new place over the next few years.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Presumably the retail element is designed to help fund the academic buildings, but I wonder whether the correct balance has been struck between the need for more residential accommodation and the need for more shops & cafes in this part of the city?

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