236-246 Clyde Street, former site of Georgian town houses
Biro on recycled envelope
385mm x 275mm
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With an architectural history spanning the best part of a thousand years, it’s unfortunate, that unlike the other major Scottish Cities, Glasgow's rich city centre heritage trail is often completely ignored and left to deteriorate or sold off to developers who demolish it.
This is the case with this site which used to be home to the last remaining 3-storey, plus basement, City Centre Georgian townhouses. The town house furthest East along Clyde street had a great Italian deli, Fazzi, in the ground floor and basement.
In 2005 Glasgow had 10,000 hotel rooms, but the City Council were keen to add a further 3,000.
It was during Mr Purcell's time as leader of Glasgow City Council (2005-2010), that planning permission was granted within the conservation area. Firstly in 2005 for the two most easterly of the houses to be demolished in order for a 12-storey residential building, the Unicorn, to be built; and again in 2006, when the application was put in to develop the adjacent site, razing all the Town houses, adding a new 12-storey hotel in the gap where the proposed Unicorn building will sit and the existing Victorian warehouse stands.
Glasgow City Council's Land Services department had no objection to these developments. Also consulted were: Scottish Civic Trust, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust all raised objections which generally called for the existing buildings to be retained, restored and converted stating that the demolition proposal runs contrary to the sentiment of Conservation Area designation.
The houses were all demolished in 2007 but the site remained untouched and undeveloped for nearly 10 years. The removal of the building right next to Graphical House, 222 Clyde Street, has led to its significant and quickened deterioration.
In 2007 the developers of the site proposed that the 'Unicorn' building plans be changed from residential 12-storey to a 14-storey building and that the 12-storey hotel next door become a 17-storey student accommodation.
Whilst the Unicorn residential building still remains unbuilt since planning permission was granted in 2005, probably as a direct result of the 2007 financial crash, work on the 17-storey hotel/student accommodation next door began in 2015 and it is finally due to be completed this autumn, 14 years after planning permission was granted.
You may wonder why Glasgow has become a city full to bursting with student accommodation – as far as I understand there are several reasons: contractors can generate a huge return on these builds as they can accommodate many more individuals on the same footprint than if they built non-student accommodation; the construction company is not liable for VAT for building such accommodation when they would normally be liable for 20% on all other types of construction; and also there is a never ending supply of students coming to Glasgow each year who are benefitting from this type of all-inclusive accommodation to help them manage their money.