Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Removal of George Square Statues

Planning application to remove and restore George Square Statues is now under consideration and can be found at You can search using reference number 12/02178/DC.

Objection letters should use the reference number and include your name and address. 

They can be emailed to by 30th November 2012. 

My objection letter reads as follows:-

Planning & Development
Glasgow City Council
231 George Street
Glasgow, G1 1RX

Dear Sir/Madam

Reference Number: 12/02178/DC
Proposal: Removal and Restoration of Statues in George Square

I am writing to strongly object to the proposal to remove, for cleaning / restoration, the statues, and monuments, in George Square, with the exception of the Cenotaph. The reasons for my objection are:-

  1. The application is Contrary to DES 3 - Protecting and Enhancing the City’s Historic Environment.

The heritage and significance of George Square and its Statues are not protected by this proposal. It is noted that Glasgow rose to become of international importance, as the British Empire’s Second City, during the 19th Century and early part of the 20th century. The statues, created and placed within George Square over this period, and surrounded by significant civic buildings, provide a symbolic representation of the Glasgow's role as one of the world’s best-preserved Victorian cities. The statues contribute immeasurably to the identity and grandeur of George Square.

This Square is the main public space and sits at the civic heart of this great city, as a very important aspect within Glasgow’s Central Conservation Area. Any development at this site should enhance or preserve the character and appearance of the whole Conservation Area.

Glasgow, known as a City of Architecture, a cultural icon within Europe, as well as home of renowned architecture genius should protect and value this collection of high quality statues. The city is exceptional in having these unique statues gathered in one central focal place. It is vital that the city seeks to celebrate this significant heritage, cultural and economic asset for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors.

There is a Central Conservation Area Appraisal adopted by Glasgow City Council in February 2012 which states on p. B144: “Refurbishment of George Square (LOC 10) The late Victorian layout of George Square has become confused and cluttered by later alterations, and the poor-quality tarmac surfacing detracts from the quality of the space. The square would benefit from traffic management measures, sensitive reconfiguration and upgraded public realm to a quality of design and materials appropriate to its significance at the civic heart of Glasgow (City Plan 2, Part 2, Sect 7.39).

A conservation plan is needed to identify the key historical components of the square and to ensure that their interest is recognised and maintained in any redevelopment proposals.”

There is no Conservation Plan, Action Plan and/or masterplan developed and published for George Square. It is unacceptable that the proposals for George Square (the current application to remove and restore the statues being but aspect) are being progressed without even a draft of such a conservation plan, which would be a pre-requisite to safeguard the square and ensure there is a satisfactory outcome.

  1. Contrary to “Site of Special Landscape Importance” status of George Square

George Square has status as Site of Special Landscape Importance (SSLI021) and is an area covered by Environmental Designations including policies ENV 7. This proposal does not demonstrate how the proposed development will enhance all of the statues which are the landscape characteristics of the Site of Special Landscape Importance. The proposal has to meet the required design principles to restore this important landscape within our city’s historic heritage; a collection of statues rivalled by few other cities in the world.

  1. Lack of Specification Details

a) “Sir Walter Scott” statue is by far the largest monument, but there is a lack of the details of works given for all other significant statues. This is essential information which must be provided to the public.

b) Plinths for most of the statues – there is no indication provided about intentions for the “Plinths”. As the plinth is an integral part of the artistic creation, each must remain with its statue. Plinths also carry the historic inscriptions. This essential information must also be available to the public.

  1. Planning Permission issues

Planning approval is needed for the permanent removal of statues from George Square. This is due to George Square being designated a Site of Special Landscape Importance (SSLI), located in the Central Conservation Area of Glasgow and as it is within the curtilage of significant listed buildings. It is recognised that if the Council takes action to relocate any statue(s) permanently, without the planning approval than it would be breaching its own planning regulations.

Significant change to the landscape will take place if the proposal is granted for statue removal, and it is therefore expected that planning permission would have to be granted at the same time for a new design for George Square, to “preserve or enhance the character of the Conservation Area” and to take account of SSLI status. Therefore a condition is required if this application 12/02178/DC is granted. It should explicitly require the pre-requisite of additional planning approval for any changes to George Square resulting from any relocations of statues, by means of inserting a condition of consent.

It is not acceptable for the heritage value of George Square to be diminished as would result from what is proposed. I strongly oppose this application which will neither enhance nor preserve the character and appearance of the Central Conservation Area.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.


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