Feb 18th, 2013
Save the Steps – Letter to Planning Committee
By Jen Stout
This letter was drafted by campaigners on the Save the Steps campaign. Feel free to use the information here to write your letter to your councillors, or just copy relevant sections. The key point is the very last paragraph, as the inclusion of an additional condition ensuring disabled access would remove the main reason currently being given to remove the steps (lack of access).
Planning applications: 14/02569/DC: Demolition of Concert Hall steps, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; and 14/02554/DC: Development of Buchanan Galleries
The Planning Committee will soon be making a decision about the above applications.
If you are a member of the Planning Committee I hope you will take the following into account. If you are not yourself on the committee I hope you will discuss this with your colleagues who are.
I am asking the members of the Planning Committee to use their discretionary power to introduce an additional condition: that the proposed design for the streetscape at the top of Buchanan Street be revised to retain the Concerthall steps more or less as they are now but with the addition of a lift or slope to one side for disabled access, and for the retention of the statue of Donald Dewar in its current location.
I will summarise my reasons for asking you to take this unusual step below.
What I object to most strongly about the proposal to demolish the Steps is the removal of a much-valued and well-used civic space and the resulting privatisation of a main public space. There is no other location in the city centre that serves this vital dual purpose of being both in the main thoroughfare, yet just offset enough to allow people to stop and take notice of what is going on without obstructing the main walkway. The Steps are frequently used for political campaigns, charitable fundraising, launches and photo opportunities. The Steps are also a popular area for workers and visitors to sit in the sun and listen to street musicians.
The Steps are located within the Central Conservation Area which means that any changes must preserve and enhance the character of the conservation area. The obliteration of the façade of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with a shopping mall entrance cannot be said to enhance the character of the area and would permanently destroy the impressive vista as seen from Buchanan Street, indeed the view has become iconic and is used by the council itself to sell the city.
However, I do think that this access to the concert hall should be improved for those with mobility impairments and this should still be possible whilst retaining the Steps in more or less the form they have now.
The associated streetscape proposal to move the statue of the Father of the Nation, Donald Dewar would disappoint and upset residents of the city and visitors. It should remain in his current, high status position, rather than be shifted to a significantly less impressive position.
I hope you will see that my request for an additional planning condition, requiring the steps to be kept and the proposed streetscape to be revised, will still allow the main part of the developers’ proposals to go ahead whilst allowing the retention of a much loved public area.