George Square redesign: Council drops radical revamp plan

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Glasgow City Council has dropped plans for a radical revamp of George Square.

The authority said the space would be given a "substantial facelift" instead, after significant opposition emerged to proposals for a redesign.

The new plan will see the existing statues and grassed areas retained and the red tarmac replaced.

The design competition for a new square was won by John McAslan and Partners but the council said it would not be proceeding with the £15m contract.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "The people of Glasgow have made it clear that they do not want a radical redesign of the square.

Council 'listening'

"They want the square to look better and be a place of which they can be proud - a place they can while away a sunny afternoon or get together and celebrate the big occasions in the life of the city.

"They also want us to keep the statues where they are, and they like the grass. However, they clearly want rid of the red tarmac. I am proud to say that I am listening to them."

Cllr Matheson said the scaled-back refurbishment would be carried out in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Cllr Gordon Matheson Cllr Matheson said he was "listening" to the people of Glasgow

He added: "Only if there is public demand thereafter, will we consider a radical change."

The design competition to completely overhaul the square was announced by the council last year.

Earlier this month, six shortlisted designs were selected from a total of 35 companies which had expressed interest in the project.

The four British firms on the shortlist were Burns and Nice, Gustafson Porter, JM Architects and John McAslan and Partners.

They were joined by American firm James Corner Field Operations and Agence Ter from France.

Their designs have been on display at The Lighthouse for the past few weeks, where members of the public have been able to register their comments.

The judging panel comprised of David Mackay, MBM Architects Barcelona and Professor Andy McMillan, former head of Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art.

They were joined by David Harding, former head of Environmental Art, Glasgow School of Art, Geoff Ellis, director of DF Concerts and Cllr Matheson.

'Stunning plans'

The technical advisor of the panel was Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

The panel's decision had been due to be announced on Friday but was delayed after judges could not reach agreement.

The council confirmed on Monday that they had chosen John McAslan and Partners but would not be proceeding with the contract.

Cllr Matheson said: "The companies which were asked to produce designs gave us stunning plans, any one of which would have looked fantastic, and I would like to thank the architectural firms involved for their time and hard work. I also want to thank the members of the jury."

The decision by the council to ditch a radical revamp came after significant opposition to the scheme.

Prof Alexander Stoddart, the Queen's Sculptor in Scotland, was highly critical of plans to remove statues from the square

In a letter to the council he said: "The Taliban in Afghanistan target the rock-cut Buddhas of Bamiyan with exactly the same sense of resentment against their perpetual peace, as certain thrusters in Glasgow seek to expel the statues from George Square."

Criticism also came from Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White who lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament which condemned "the shortage of information and severe lack of public consultation" over the proposals.

An online petition, calling for George Square to be restored to "its former grassy glory", also attracted thousands of supporters and a rally against the revamp was being planned for 2 February.

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