Plans Approved to Regenerate City Centre Districts

1st May 2023

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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. 

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. 

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

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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. 

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. 

More information on DRFs