Where do Glasgow’s development plans fit into #ScotlandisNow?
The #ScotlandisNow agenda - driven by the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International/Scottish Enterprise and Universities Scotland - is looking to drive further momentum behind Glasgow as a prime city for retail and professional services investment, as well as meet ambitious environmental and housing targets.
Recently, private and public sector professionals from the built environment industry came together to hear about the latest development plans for Glasgow. Euan Matheson regional lead, Scotland, discusses the key takeaways from the event.
Investment in the city
Glasgow is a thriving city. It is the largest retail centre in the UK, after London, with an annual spend of £4.2 billion.
Thanks to its high performing universities, the city also boasts a highly-skilled workforce and this, combined with excellent commuter links into the city, mean developers have historically viewed Glasgow as a prime location for building quality commercial office space.
At the event, councillor Susan Aitken was keen to reiterate the success of Glasgow’s international financial services district, which, thanks to the high concentration of skilled people, great transport links, and high-quality speculative commercial property offering and conferencing facilities, provides the perfect catalyst for inward investment from major employers, such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley.
Councillor Aitken reiterated Glasgow’s position as a key location for major conferences, citing the quality and quantity of bed spaces available in the city, allied with the quality of the existing conference facilities. The city is particularly proud to have attracted COP 26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in November at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Meeting challenging targets
Even with such positive growth, the city is not resting on its laurels. In September last year, the council announced its ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and pledged to fully implement a low emission zone (LEZ) for all vehicles entering the city centre by 31 December 2022.
Back in 2015, the council committed to building 25,000 new build properties by 2025 - with a focus on adopting Passivhaus standards and methodologies.
One of the main challenges faced by the local authorities however, is freeing up the vast areas of land available for development. It was very interesting to hear councillor Aitken acknowledge the legal issues the council is facing in establishing ownership of land and complicated title deeds, and thus causing delay in freeing up the space for development.
What does this mean for construction?
As the city continues to develop its reputation as an international centre for finance, there is a healthy demand for continual regeneration and urban renewal. We see this clearly as development begins on the south side of the river for prime office space for the first time.
Supporting plans for a carbon neutral Glasgow will mean that contractors and consultants need to maintain a focus on energy efficiency and renewables. We must adopt modern methods of construction and continue to drive innovation by training the workforce to adapt and push for more offsite manufacturing.
On the whole, the outlook for Glasgow is good; there is room for expansion and an opportunity for it to be an exemplar for sustainable growth.
Euan Matheson, regional lead for Scotland at Perfect Circle