Traders launch 'save Byres Road' plan

Added on Tuesday 29 May 2012

More than 20 Byres Road businesses have launched a "regeneration" action plan aimed at heading off the threat of a trade slump it's feared could follow major changes to shopping trends in Hillhead.

Besides bolstering shop revenues the move, backed by local politicians, also seeks to ensure the West End's best-known road retains its "character and vitality".

Launched at a meeting in Hillhead Library, the nascent traders' association wants to involve local residents, the council and other statutory bodies in what amounts to a wide ranging attempt to ensure Byres Road remains a busy, family-friendly shopping hub.

Co-founded by West End Festival director Michael Dale and Friends of Glasgow West convener Ann Laird, the group aims to address changes set to come about when the Western Infirmary is taken over by Glasgow University in 2015. It also wants to answer the perceived threat to trade of a planned riverfront superstore in Thornwood, as well as the fall-off in trade already caused by the closure of the former BBC headquarters on Queen Margaret Drive - now relocated to Pacific Quay.

But as yet the group has stopped short of seeking to turn the area into a Business Improvement District - as has happened in south side suburb Clarkston - which involves local shops paying extra rates to create local improvements reckoned to make local shopping more attractive.

Besides improved street signage and lighting, the Clarkston BID has funded initiatives such as a special Christmas shopping promotion, a treasure hunt and street art displays.

The BID - set to be replicated in nearby Giffnock - also involves input from the local authority.

However it's unclear whether Glasgow City Council - frequently criticised for its handling of sensitive West End planning issues - would seek to become seriously involved with a business-led organisation in Byres Road.

A spokesman for the West End group said:

"Many other shopping centres such as Buchanan Street , the Merchant City, Shawlands and Clarkston already have an association to represent the views of traders. ?This is vital in formulating a regeneration ?action plan? in partnership with the local authority - during which process everyone?s views are considered, including individual residents, local community councils, a full range of businesses, the University, Glasgow Botanic Gardens and so on.?