Shortlisted designs for Glasgow’s George Square to go on show

32
1062

george squareBy a Newsnet reporter

On Monday the 7th of January the six shortlisted designs for the revamp of Glasgow’s George Square will go on show to the public at the Lighthouse, Glasgow and also online on the council’s website.

George Square was first laid out as private gardens in the 1780s for the impressive townhouses which lined its east and west sides.

george squareBy a Newsnet reporter

On Monday the 7th of January the six shortlisted designs for the revamp of Glasgow’s George Square will go on show to the public at the Lighthouse, Glasgow and also online on the council’s website.

George Square was first laid out as private gardens in the 1780s for the impressive townhouses which lined its east and west sides.

It has been the site of various meetings, protests, celebrations, commemorations and even riots over the years.

The Square is now the heart of Glasgow’s city centre and houses the beautiful Italian Renaissance style City Chambers.

However, Glasgow City Council leader, Gordon Matheson, claims that the Square looks “tired” and that it is time to bring back its “lost grandeur” so a £15 million revamp is on the cards.  It is hoped that the first phase of the redevelopment can be completed before the Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2014.

The process so far has not been without controversy since initial consultation found a conflict between the wishes of the public and those of stakeholders.

According to Ipsos Mori, who carried out the initial consultation, the public: “tend to emphasise retaining the Square’s traditional feel (including it’s statuary) in order to reflect Glasgow’s history.”

Stakeholders, on the other hand, were found to be: “more supportive of a complete redesign, both to project a more modern, vibrant and creative image of Glasgow and to encourage people into the city centre.”

The square’s statues seem to be a particular bone of contention.  The square is home to an impressive doric column on which sits a stone carved statue of Sir Walter Scott, the first monument in the world to honour one of our most famous wordsmiths.

Of course Robert Burns is there too, as well as the lesser known poet and journalist, Thomas Campbell.  Also there is Queen Victoria, Sir Robert Peel, Gladstone, James Watt and others. The classical sculptor, Sandy Stoddart has proclaimed the collection of 13 statues to be: “among the finest and most historically important statues to be made in these islands.”

The redevelopment now seems certain to involve the removal of these statues from the Square and their ‘temporary’ relocation to other areas of the city.  It is feared that some of them may not return.

There have been over 80 objections to the plans to remove the statues which means that the final decision will be made by the planning commission on the 14th of February.  The ‘Restore George Square’ pressure group are not optimistic that there will be any change of heart by policy makers.

There are no plans to move the cenotaph, though ex Lord Provost, Michael Kelly recently wrote in the Scotsman that: “There is no merit in returning most of these statues. Consideration should be given to relocating the Cenotaph, which is on too large a scale for its surroundings.  Outside Glasgow Cathedral would be more reverential and fill another void.”

The Restore George Square group highlight that in a recent speech to the State of the City Conference, Gordon Matheson described the statues as “unknown lifeless relics from a bygone era”.

They fear that the views of the residents of Glasgow are not being taken into account.  These fears are sparked by what they perceive as a cosy relationship between councillors from all parties on Glasgow City Council together with business and the local media.

They point out that the initial consultation process involved just 42 of Glasgow’s ordinary residents and ask “why are our councillors’ ideas for George Square so closely aligned to business interests and so out of touch with the citizens of Glasgow?”