Byres Road and Partick Centres, Glasgow
Together with lead consultants Halcrow Group Ltd, Kevin Murray Associates and Jones Lang la Salle, we have been appointed by Glasgow City Council to produce an Action Plan for the Byres Road/Partick area of the City.
The aim of the study is to sustain these centres by providing high quality, convenient and attractive retail and commercial facilities to serve residents and visitors to the City. Additionally, the Action Plan will address the management of short and longer term change in the area, the maintenance of a balance of uses and the enhancement of the environment.
Summary of Issues
While the general structure and morphology of the study area is generally good, the quality of public realm and the pedestrian experience within the area is very low. The continuing popularity of the West End as a place to live as well as a place for evening entertainment suggests that its attractiveness has more to do with the quality of adjacent residential environments, restaurants, bars and the perceived bohemian feel of the area.
In the run up to Glasgow’s year as City of Architecture and Design in 1999, Arnold Kemp wrote that he was, “…apt to declare that Byres Road is the Boulevard St Germain of Glasgow”. While there may be some similarities in terms of the arts and media, the evening economy, a developing café life and a large resident student population, in terms of environment, the differences could hardly be more marked. The Boulevard St Germain is an elegant tree-lined street with fashion shops, hotels, cultural venues and galleries in addition to cafes, bars and restaurants. Byres Road falls far short of this – but it is nevertheless a worthwhile aspiration, especially if Byres Road and Glasgow wish to feature on an international stage.
The issues that require to be addressed are:
- loss of urban fabric, scale and legibility south of Dumbarton Road
- weaknesses in visual structure of Byres Road
- poor connectivity towards the river
- low quality pedestrian environment throughout the area
- few pedestrian spaces or places
- inconsistent and poor quality shopfronts
- environmental clutter – particularly signage of all kinds and bins
- management issues related to street cleanliness
- generally low standard of public realm and paving materials
- localised pedestrian congestion
- accommodating street-life – cafes, charities, events, sellers
- unwelcoming and poor quality arrival points
- small shortfall in pedestrian crossings
- lack of green space in central/south Byres Road
- the future of opportunity sites