Byres Road, Glasgow West End's favourite street is all set for a major redevelopment. Funding of £9million has been assigned from Glasgow City Region City Deal adding to the the plans to expand the University of Glasgow Campus at the Western Infirmary with an intended budget of £1 billion over the the next ten years.
The area is already a major draw to locals and visitors to the city, with its restaurants, independent, shops, cafes, bars, fascinating lanes, entertainment at venues including OranMor, where you can find a diverse range of music and theatre, including the fabulous A Play, A Pie and A Pint. The Botanic Gardens and the University of Glasgow are also popular destinations.
Byres Road development plans will see improvements to Byres Road and surrounding streets with a full street redesign and benefits for pedestrians and cyclists. Some of the aims will include providing seated areas, reducing clutter, renewing surfaces and creating civic spaces. It will also open up access to the university and blur the boundaries between the university and the public.
The University moved to Gilmorehill from High Street in 1870 with the educational institute situated beside the hospital linking teaching and research. When the university opened in 1874 a clause was signed stating tht if the hospital ceased to operate in the location tht the university could buy the site. In April 2016 the University took up that option with plans to build a world changing campus – one of the biggest educational infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history.
Initial plans envisage the construction of a Learning and Teaching Hub in University Avenue before undertaking further developments at the former Western Infirmary. The aim is to: 'develop an open and accessible campus that will provide quality learning, research and community spaces.'
In December, 2016, Glasgow City Council gave planning permission for the Learning and Teaching Hub and the masterplan will go before the Council for approval on Thursday, 16 February 2017.
In Spring 2016 a public consultation regarding the University's ambitious plans took place with an exhibition providing an opportunity to view the planned development.
Last February we went along to the exhibition at the Woolfson Medical Centre and had the chance to see the plans and find out about the ambitious and exciting project.
The lower end of Byres Road is in particular need of an upgrade and developments here will have a major impact on the area, which has already been enhanced by the refurbished Kelvin Hall. This was an important collaborative project though partnership between the University of Glasgow, the National Library of Scotland and the city of Glasgow. The iconic building now provides facilities for University students, staff and the public including: a centre for postgraduate research, lecture theatre, with a public programme offered by students and curators plus a sport and leisure centre and a cafe.
The National Library of Scotland is Scotland's largest reference library and the world's leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots. Now based at The Kelvin Hall it is open to the public for the first time.
With Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the UK's most visited museums outside London, just sitting adjacent to the Kelvin Hall and the Riverside Transport Museum a short drive away, the area at the lower end of Byres Road and Partick, is emerging as a unique and attractive Museum Centre.
The University with its striking Gothic architecture and impressive location above the River Kelvin contributes considerably to the attractiveness of Glasgow's West End. The area, including Byres Road, is made more vibrant by the presence of the large and youthful student population and University staff.
Popular events at the University, such as Creative Conversations, a programme of literary events, which take place in the University Chapel, work really well in opening the University up to the public. And, of course, the University's Centre for Open Studies, offers a wide range of courses, which attract people of all ages – some seeking knowledge in particular topics as a pastime and others as a route to further study and qualifications at the University.
Byres Road, the lanes and the areas surrounding the university create the perfect backdrop for leisure and recreation. Blurring the boundairies between the university and the public through the City Deal funding can only serve to enhance the area.
Work is set to commence on Byres Road later in 2017 and local architects Benton Scott-Simmons have been appointed by the council to lead a design in undertaking consultation with local stakeholders.
Glasgow's West End, which I have been promoting via my website since 1999, is certain to become even more wonderful with Byres Road development plans.
Pat Byrne, January, 2017