Stop the demolition of the Concert Hall steps

As you may or may not have heard, the city council plan to demolish the steps at the top of Buchanan Street (a much-used and enjoyed public space in the heart of our busy city), and replace them with a glass atrium. If you oppose this idea, please join our campaign to act quickly: the deadline for public objections to the demolition is TOMORROW, Friday the 5th of December (see below for template letter to save you time). If you are very pressed for time, 38 Degrees have ready-made option for you here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/fb-steps-speakout

Then on Saturday the 6th at 2pm there will be a demo at the steps. We’d love to have you along to show the council just how much the steps mean to Glasgow. We anticipate a wide range of community and campaign groups (as well as a speech from Patrick Harvie and music from local buskers). You are actively encouraged to bring teeshirts, banners or placards from your own movement, as well as some declaring your support for the steps. 

Otherwise, we are very grateful for your help in sharing the two above action points (ie. objection messages — with the 38 Degrees link — by Friday, and the demo) far and wide.

With many thanks for all and any efforts you are able to make to save this brilliant civic space,
Save The Steps campaign 
FB: https://www.facebook.com/saveourstepsglasgow

Objection e-mails should be sent to planning.representations@glasgow.gov.uk, stating that you are writing about Reference: 14/02569/DC – ie. the demolition of the steps.

And here’s a template letter, which you can prefix with your own ideas and opinions:

4th December 2014 

To whom it may concern, 

I am writing in objection of Glasgow City Council’s current planning application: 

-14/02554/DC: | Mixed use development comprising extensions to shopping centre (comparison and convenience retail floor space), Class 11, Class 3, Class 2, Class 4 and public house uses, erection of entrance atrium, demolition of existing car park, erection of new car park, landscaping, public realm and ancillary works, new vehicle access and servicing arrangements. | Buchanan Galleries 220 Buchanan Street City Centre Glasgow 

I am in opposition of these plans for a number of reasons that clash with Glasgow City Council’s “City Plan 2”. 

In planning application: 14/02554/DC: 

- In “Planning Statement Final”, in Section 3.10, it states: 

“People’s behaviour in many urban areas was often seen to be dictated, either positively or negatively, by the physical fabric within it. If negative, it can influence perceptions of a place, prevent social interaction and dissuade people from walking or being active. Meeting local needs within walking distance of their homes, providing access to good quality greenspace and designing communities to encourage interaction and pedestrian movement are all principles of design that are widely endorsed within best practice guidance documents.” 

Demolishing the steps and replacing them with a glass atrium clashes with the Development Strategy on page 30 of City Plan 2, which states that the Development Strategy seeks to: 

“promote social renewal by enriching the environment of the City and creating attractive living and working environments, improving quality of life.” 

The steps have been a community meeting place for social interaction and encourages people to be active in using the steps to enter to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. 

- In Part 2 (Development Strategy Priorities and Proposals) of City Plan 2, it states on page 26, under Urban Design, that: 

“The Plan seeks to secure the highest possible quality of environment and to encourage imaginative and innovative design that respects its context, contributes to sustainability and enhances the City to create safe, successful and inclusive places (see policies DES 1: Development Design Principles and DES 2: Sustainable Design and Construction).” 

This clashes with the article published by respected Glasgow architect magazine, Urban Realm, that highlights how campaigners believe that the proposed glass rotunda is “generic and underwhelming”. The details of this planning application do not explain what will happen with the iconic statue of Donald Dewar, with the article stating that it may be removed and “will be replaced with a circular array of ‘art stones”. 

- In Page 14 of “Planning Statement” (Prepared by GVA James Barr November 2014), in states in point 3.29: 

“The development layout creates a pleasant positive sense of place which is welcoming, promotes visual equality, encourages social interaction, connectivity and considers the place before vehicle movement.” 

However, demolishing the steps, a popular and appreciated meeting area with Glasgow’s citizens would clash with the above Subject Policy and the Development Strategy on page 30 of City Plan 2, which states that the Development Strategy seeks to: 

“promote social renewal by enriching the environment of the City and creating attractive living and working environments, improving quality of life.” 

On top of the above planning applications clashing with the policies outlined in City Plan 2, there are a number of other reasons why the demolition of these steps would be extremely unpopular with Glasgow residents. 

The decision would be undemocratic. At present, this is a key forum for free speech within the city and the removal of the steps would represent the privatisation of a public space. 

The decision to remove the steps and build a glass atrium remains relatively unknown amongst Glasgow residents. There has been a lack of public consultation regarding this. Over 12,000 people have signed an online petition to keep the steps (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-steps) and Glasgow City Council have not responded to growing public opinion. 

The decision would affect the character of Glasgow City Centre. Apart from George Square, which is surrounded by continual noise pollution from traffic, there are very few places for resident to meet socially. Glasgow may be known for it’s choice of retail options, but the city loses out to Edinburgh for iconic architecture and cultural areas. 

The decision about the possible removal of Donald Dewar, a key figure in Scotland’s political history, as part of the development, would disappoint and upset residents of the city. 

I sincerely hope you take these key reasons seriously as to why these iconic steps should not be demolished.