Glasgow City Centre Regeneration Frameworks Approved

Tourist maps_4 districts cropped

Glasgow City Centre Regeneration Frameworks Approved

Plans to regenerate four districts (Cowcaddens, the Learning Quarter, the Merchant City and Townhead) in Glasgow city centre have now been approved by Glasgow City Council.

Glasgow City Council appointed a team led by Austin-Smith:Lord, working with Studio for New Realties and in collaboration with Urban Movement and a wider multi-disciplinary team listed below to prepare these 4 District Regeneration Frameworks.

The plans will be delivered over the next decade through District Regeneration Frameworks (DRFs) for each of the areas, with recent public and stakeholder consultation – with over 4,300 people participating – helping to shape these.

These DRFs are 10-year regeneration plans with a series of short, medium- and long-term actions that combine strategic planning and placemaking with shorter-term operational and environmental improvements.  The DRF programme is part of the council’s City Centre Strategy, which aims to develop the area as a more inclusive, sustainable, mixed-use place capable of supporting a growing population.

District Regeneration Frameworks > Handbooks for Change

These DRFs are 10-year regeneration plans with a series of short, medium- and long-term actions that combine strategic planning and placemaking with shorter-term operational and environmental improvements.  The frameworks were developed over an 18-month period based upon an evidence base, tested throughout the process by community and stakeholder engagement.  Almost 11,000 people have participated in DRF engagement so far.

Each District Regeneration Framework is intended to be a Handbook for Change setting out practical steps to enhance everyday quality of life for those who live, work, study in and visit the City Centre.

The Handbooks are focused on encouraging action and enabling partnership working to deliver sustainable change in each place. Action Plans suggest who should work with whom to make change happen and how to align projects with funding and investment.

Three main themes were developed for these DRFs, each with strong support from consultation respondents:

    • Enhanced infrastructure and mobility within each district, between districts and to rest of the city centre and beyond – 78% of consultees thought this to be important;
    • The creation of network of public and natural spaces which enhance the sense of place and provide more amenity for those who live, work, study or visit there (77% thought this important); and
    • Strengthening these networks to encourage inclusion, in recognition that each district contains a number of unique places, each with its own character (77% thought this important).

Prior to the public consultation, drafts for the four DRFs had been developed by the council in collaboration with Austin-Smith Lord and Studio for New Realities, who had already engaged with the local community, stakeholders and organisations in these districts.  Through this earlier engagement, it became clear that this part of the city centre is very different to the five other city centre districts in terms of their character:

Cowcaddens: There is the potential to develop as a district with a distinct identity and to contribute to the local economy, with opportunities to provide the homes needed to increase the city centre population. It has the space for change and the talent to make it happen. Its existing communities, under-occupied buildings and land, its array of cultural and educational institutions all point to a positive future.

Learning Quarter: Its identity is defined by the cluster of cultural and built heritage on the one hand, and the presence of knowledge and innovation institutions on the other. The dual character offers clear starting points from which to strengthen its positions as an inspiring, historic innovation hub.

Merchant City: Where the City Centre meets the East End, acting as a gateway between the two, this is a great local neighbourhood of international renown, and well connected to the future river park and Glasgow Green.  Enhancing the Merchant City district’s position as a bustling artistic centre of creativity and entrepreneurship forms the basis of the suggested future developments.

Townhead: A residential area at heart, Townhead has long been home to many city centre residents. It holds great potential to develop into a green and enjoyable residential urban neighbourhood with spaces for production at the fringes, connected to productive areas in the west, historic landmarks in the east and innovation in the south.

These four DRFs will now become material planning consideration for the city centre. You can view them at the links below:

Postcard from the Future (image : Studio for New Realties) > imaging a Centre Centre with a nature network of green-blue open spaces for communities to enjoy

Councillor Angus Millar, Convener for City Centre Recovery at Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow city centre is changing rapidly, and the set of ideas and projects contained within these District Regeneration Frameworks present a pathway to help guide the regeneration of the city centre’s northern and eastern parts.  The approval of these frameworks will help inform appropriate future investment and development that builds on the unique character of each of the four districts while supporting our wider strategic vision for the city centre.  From improving connectivity across the M8 corridor and enhancing green space, to realising opportunities to accommodate new city centre residents, the Cowcaddens, Townhead, Learning Quarter and Merchant City areas will play an important role in the recovery and transformation of Glasgow city centre.”

Graham Ross, CEO at Austin-Smith:Lord, stated “This is a key milestone for the regeneration of Glasgow city centre and its role at the heart of the city region. These four Districts encompass the North-East half of the city centre; an under appreciated part of the city. This is where Glasgow started and these DRFs are Handbooks for the future place that are deliverable, people-focussed and action driven.

Each Handbook is a manual for change; outlining an ambitious vision that is distinctive and inspired people and places that make this part of Glasgow so special. They seek to address the priority issues for local communities and outline the exciting possibilities for these Districts to lead the way in responding to climate change and the post-pandemic recovery.

If we can draw upon the talent and passion of those who live, work, learn and visit the city centre we can deliver a vibrant, diverse and sustainable mixed-use place that enhances the everyday quality of life of Glaswegians and contributes to Scotland’s economy, culture and wellbeing.

Now it’s time to turn these ideas into action.

The 4 District Regeneration Frameworks approved in May 2023 follow on from a previous phase of DRFs prepared By Austin-Smith: Lord alongside MVRDV and a multi-disciplinary team. The previous DRFs covered Broomielaw, Blythswood, St. Enoch and Central Districts and were adopted by Glasgow City Council in 2019/20. They are available to view online here.

(Y)our City Centre Team – Phase 3 (2020-23)

Glasgow City Council City Centre Regeneration: Client

Austin-Smith:Lord: Lead Consultants / Local Urban Design (Urbanism, Landscape, Architecture)

Studio for New Realities: Urban Strategy / Design Lead

Urban Movement: Urban Mobility, Transport Planning, Active Travel

WAVEparticle: Creative Community Engagement

Stantec: Economic Consultants

Ryden: Property Advisers

Useful Projects: Urban Sustainability

Space Syntax: Spatial Economics / Data Analysis

Civic Engineers: Sustainable Engineering

Further information on the project can also be found at the link below:

(Y)our Future City Centre : after COP26, Glasgow starts here