Saturday, 14 January 2017

Development of Mixed-use University Campus

On Tuesday, planning permission in principle was agreed for the site of the former Western Infirmary on University Avenue. This plan provides for teaching and learning buildings, University research buildings, commercial research and development/offices, food and drink, hotels, retail shops, sports and recreation facilities, day nursery, creche, residential flats, and energy centre with landscaping and public realm. Some of the existing buildings are to be demolished. 

Whilst I have given my general support to the plans for site by the University of Glasgow, I raised concerns about the proposal for a supermarket, the loss of trees and increased noise issues. 

My objection to the proposal for retail shops including a convenience supermarket and two comparison anchor stores with a total floorspace of 4,000sqm was based on my view that this will have a negative impact on the existing retail, commercial, leisure facilities in the area. It is potentially contrary to Development Policy Principle DEV 9 Civic, Hospital and Tertiary Education. The current market conditions experienced by high street retailers are influenced by increased competition from the development of online shopping and use of mobile phone technology to facilitate click and collect. The proposal for additional large scale retail floorspace will bring increased pressures on our thriving and highly valued, local businesses in the south end of Byres Road. Any regeneration should focus on the University working in partnership with the Byres Road Business Improvement District to increase footfall to these existing units.

I also objected to the current principles in the Campus and Public Realm Strategy of the Campus Development Framework and specifically the section 4.14 Trees and Planting. I raised concerns about the removal of healthy, established trees as this will not enhance this are of wildlife corridor and its use as a wildlife habitat. The protection of existing trees, vistas, and riverbank as part of a "green corridor" along the River Kelvin between Kelvingrove and the Botanic Gardens should be embedded in principle within the Campus Strategy.

View of Kelvingrove Park and University Buildings.

Finally, I made reference to the Noise Impact Assessment as part of the proposals for residential and hotel uses within the site. Further noise surveys are needed to ensure that sufficient data is available for analysis. Residents have been experiencing noise nuisance from the late night economy within Dumbarton Road and are concerned about increased noise levels arising from new development within the area.

At the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to planning permission for the proposal but a further condition related to trees was added. It is to read as Condition 43: “A minimum of one tree shall be planted for each tree that requires to be removed to facilitate the proposed development”. Reason: To ensure that the landscaping of the site contributes to the landscape quality and biodiversity of the area”.

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