Chamber welcomes Sauchiehall Street task force announcement | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Chamber welcomes Sauchiehall Street task force announcement

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has welcomed City Council Leader Susan Aitken’s announcement of the setting up of a task force to help inform a long-term strategy for the Sauchiehall Street area in the aftermath of Friday’s Art School fire.

Chamber Chief Executive Stuart Patrick said:

"We welcome the appointment of a task force, and of course offer it our full support. Anyone looking at the pictures of the scene will realise that this latest fire is an absolutely tragic event and a terrible blow to the Glasgow School of Art team after its hard work over the last four years. And we must not forget the serious damage done to the O2ABC, which is a major contributor to Glasgow's night-time economy.

"But it is also devastating for Sauchiehall Street at a time of serious change due to a combination of the recent blaze at the other end of the street and the shifting trends in retail hitting hard at the businesses there.

"We believe the City Council is right that the time has come for a co-ordinated effort to help the recovery of one of Glasgow city centre's most important streets."





TUESDAY 19 JUNE 2018, 2.00PM



  1. 1. Welcome and Introductions Chair

The Chair welcomed all attendees. All recognised the need for a short, medium and long term focus in addressing the immediate challenges of the fire, options for the building and the wider regeneration of the area.  ‘Team Glasgow’ has come together and will embrace this task, calling on support from Scottish and UK Governments as necessary.

  1. 2. Future Membership             Chair / All

The core of the group largely in place. It was agreed that Donald MacLeod would be invited to join the Group. Membership in the mid to long term should remain fluid with an acknowledgement that as the remit firms up other stakeholders may play a more prominent role including community representation.                                                                          

  1. Current Situation

3.1       Situation Report                                                       All

Update provided by Richard Brown. Severe damage to both the GSA and the ABC complex and Emergency Services still in situ and dealing with a live incident site.  Experts will now analyse the data to inform the condition of the remaining infrastructure and advise.  It is too early at this point to say wat might be required.

There is an extensive cordon around the neighbourhood where the fire took place.  Situation is fluid and changing on a regular basis however the plan is to pass temporary control of the incident area over the council at 4pm.  Glasgow School of Art and the ABC are meeting on Thursday to agree a joint action plan and this should trigger passing site control to these parties.  The intention would be to tighten the cordon in the short term however this still could be extensive resulting in disruption for an extended period (homes and business). 

3.2       Support / Comms

Initial communication response was in line with our statutory duties in the event of a major incident.  Emergency services led on public communications and the council supported their messages, while responding to queries regarding the council’s role.

This was largely around the initial rest centre and subsequent temporary accommodation of people evacuated from the site, road closures and wider impact on the city centre.  This began around 3am on Saturday and continued through the weekend.

Since Monday AM, there has also been substantial communication directed from other services – for example, proactive work by Business Glasgow to contact businesses.  Corporate communications have used further messages regarding securing business support in media work.

Tuesday afternoon, we communicated changes to the cordon as Building Control took over responsibility for the site.  Media, social media, website, partners and Business.

As well as the continued approach to communication outlined above the Council (Kevin Rush) has also committed to identify a nominated officer responsible for business liaison and will also deploy 2 business advisors on site.


HSCP continue to engage with residents directly impacted by the fire and proving them with the appropriate support packages.  It was recognised that as well as the specific engagement with residents then there is wider public engagement using a combination of social media and other more traditional platforms.

  1. Future

4.1       Possible Future for the Mack                                  All

Too early to speculate the future of the GSA building whilst the technical experts are looking at the structural integrity of the remains.  Ongoing, the group will deal with the facts provided by the technical specialists with regard to the future of the site.

It was acknowledged that from the learning from the 2014 fire the stakeholder base is both large and complex including numerous groups including students, residents of Glasgow and art collectors worldwide.  Further learnings from the 2014 was that the GSA was an ecology which went beyond the building and this should be recognised going forward.

4.2       Opportunities for Sauchiehall Street District        All

Ongoing work around Avenue Project funded through City Deal is ongoing however it was acknowledged that the fire had resulted in disruption and would mean some re profiling to take account of the continued cordon.  With regard to future opportunities this was cautioned that city deal investment was already earmarked against a range of projects and it would not be easy to redirect this.  It was however acknowledged that the regeneration of the Sauchiehall Street district was very compelling and subject to securing investment, offered significant economic benefits.

With regard to roads there had been a number of closures as a result if the fire and that officers in LES would continue to take a lead from building control officers.  A traffic management plan had been put in place to deal with resultant issues in nearby Garnethill.

City Property (Pauline Barclay) updated that their property portfolio was not extensive in the area in question, however they outlined their continued support highlighting some early positive discussions re making premises available for impacted businesses and longer term accommodation for GSA.

The situation in Sauchiehall St whilst regrettable presented an opportunity to embrace the concept of place making.  It allows Team Glasgow to be both radical and innovative and make a number of strategies come together in a new, exciting and visionary way.  Amongst others the City Centre Strategy, City Centre Residential Strategy, Council Strategic Plan, Liveable City Centre were mentioned.  To realise this aspiration it was acknowledged this could not be done by the council alone but would require to be a multi agency approach tapping into the strengths and expertise of partners and stakeholders across the city.  A key stakeholder in this dialogue would be the GSA.

In order to re-establish the Sauchiehall District it would require to be identified as an area for a designated coordinated response / priority regeneration zone.   It was agreed that this should be scoped out for optimal effect including current statutory powers, with asks of Governments as required.

With regards to informing and testing opportunities it was suggested that a sub group of the wider task group should work with potential developers over the summer and engage with them over a series of informal engagement sessions. Also key to this would be leveraging in the necessary private sector investment.

Indicatively a timeline was set to use the time between now and the autumn to more clearly set the vision and perhaps the 5 year programme and approach to this regeneration plan.

4.3       Asks of Government                                                Chair / All

Immediately following the incidents of the weekend there had been some positive dialogue with government and offers of support.  There had been no specifics agreed, however the programme of work between now and the autumn outlined presented the opportunity to both firm up on our vision/ambitions but also be more specific with regards to asks of government.                                       

4.4       Any Other Business

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