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‘Vastly over-scale’ Sauchiehall Street plans threaten Mac, warn critics

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Critics have slammed HAUS’s proposals for a student accommodation block next to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Grade A-listed Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow-based architect recently revised its initial proposals, submitted in August last year, for a 185-bed building on Sauchiehall Street in Scotland’s second city.

But opponents say that, if allowed to proceed, the scheme, funded by developer Urban Pulse, could scupper any future bid for World Heritage Site status for the art school.

Architect and academic Alan Dunlop told the AJ: ‘It is clear that the proposed building is vastly over-scale in relationship to the south and east elevation of the Glasgow School of Art.

‘On such a site you have to take additional care and build tentatively.’

The council has received a number of objections to the proposal from local residents, politicians and heritage groups, as well as from Janette Ferguson, MP for Glasgow Central.

She said: ‘I feel that the proposed development would negatively impact on nearby properties and the wider community through increased noise and disturbance and loss of light and privacy; would obscure public views of and degrade the architectural character of the vitally important Mackintosh building to which it would be adjoined; and would be unsuitable for the conservation area given its conflicting style, which does not respect the area’s setting and context.’

The scheme would degrade the architectural character of the vitally important Mackintosh building

Niall Murphy, chair of campaign group Pollokshields Heritage, said: ‘The proposal sits within this buffer zone, directly abutting the potential World Heritage Site so needs to be as respectful as possible, particularly as the council may well wish to pursue a future bid for World Heritage Site status for the Glasgow School of Art.’

However, Historic Environment Scotland did not object to the proposal in its response to the planning application.

It said: ‘It is unclear from the drawings what the exact physical impact on the adjacent buildings will be but, following pre-application discussions, we understand that it will directly affect the Grade C-listed 304-332 Sauchiehall Street, and not Glasgow School of Art.

‘If there are direct physical impacts on Glasgow School of Art that require listed building consent, [the] council will need to reconsult us with a set of detailed drawings that show what that impact will be.’

In a letter rebutting the criticisms, planning consultancy Iceni, acting for Urban Pulse, said: ‘It is our view that the scheme would not generate an impact on the setting and significance of the Mac, or to the character and appearance of the Glasgow Central Conservation Area, that would be harmful.’

In its design and access statement, HAUS added that ‘from the earliest design stage we have worked closely with key stakeholders, including Glasgow City Council and Historic Scotland to ensure that ideas and comments are integrated into the proposed design.’

A spokesman for HAUS said: ’Our proposals are very much in-line with the aspirations of the city to rejuvenate Sauchiehall Street and re-establish this important city district. Our development would be an illustration of those aspirations being delivered which would contribute positively to the Glasgow economy as well as the local and wider communities.

’We’ve invested a huge amount of time to engage with and consider the views of all our neighbours, the local community and relevant bodies. This is a design that has been interpreted through in-depth consultation.

‘This is a design that has been interpreted through in-depth consultation’

’The current site is in need of regeneration in a manner which is sympathetic to its surroundings and we have altered our initial designs to accommodate valuable feedback from consultees including that of Historic Environment Scotland.’

Original plans from August (left); updated plans from December (right)

Original plans from August (left); updated plans from December (right)

Original plans from August (left); updated plans from December (right) 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Surely inserting such a large new building in a conservation area is a gross abuse of the principles behind the concept of a conservation area?
    Not only is it substantially increasing the mass and scale of building on Sauchiehall Street on the corner before stepping down again up Dalhousie Street, it's diminishing the impact of the steepness of the side street compared with the almost level run of Sauchiehall Street.
    But Glasgow being Glasgow, it'll probably get the nod - conservation area regardless.

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  • Correction - it's not stepping down on the side street - it's stepping up again, presumably taking its cue from the slope of the street, and the height of Mackintosh's building.
    The December design update is of minimal effect, it's all about stuffing as much building onto the site as the promoters think that they can get away with.

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