A NEW high powered group is to look at ways of transforming the city centre to cement its role as one of the leading destinations in Europe.

The independent body, which will be known as the Connectivity Commission, will rethink the area as a destination for business, shopping and leisure.

The group will be spearheaded by renowned former government transport advisor Professor David Begg and will include leaders from business, transport, academia and charities.

They will be asked to come up with bold new ideas to transform Scotland's largest city, making it more attractive to visitors, businesses and local people.

Over the next year, the commission will explore challenges and opportunities including the city centre's public realm, congestion and pollution levels and public transport use.

Its findings will be presented to the city council with the aim of ensuring the city centre remains an attractive global destination in the decades ahead.

Commission members will include Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Transform Scotland, Glasgow University and the City Centre Retail Association.

City council leader Susan Aitken said: "The Glasgow Connectivity Commission has the crucial job of improving the city centre experience for all, which offers fantastic economic opportunity for the city.

"The remit is largely their own but we anticipate transformative proposals on making Glasgow city centre more attractive for visitors and an improved experience for business, leisure and retail.

"These proposals can help us to further develop the local economy and ensure all of Glasgow's people can share in the prosperity created in the city centre.

"I am delighted the commission will be led by Professor Begg, one of the UKs most prominent transport experts and his appointment is a statement of our intent to cut pollution and congestion while delivering inclusive economic growth."

Mr Begg said one of the remits of the commission will be to have a transport network which contributes to a stronger economy, a healthier environment and social equality.

He added: "In order to achieve that we need to get more people onto public transport, walking and cycling, we need more quality pedestrian space and public realm to improve the retail environment and city centre experience and cleaner vehicles.

"We need to both arrest decline and improve Glasgow's offer. The Greater Glasgow area has such a fantastic urban network but if you live in a community which is not on the network and doesn't have a car they are pretty marginalised. That must be addressed."

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said the city centre is the engine house of the regional economy.

He added: "Glasgow Chamber of Commerce wants to see the city centre flourish with growing footfall, more jobs and increased business investment.

"The commission is an opportunity to take a fresh look at how this can be achieved responding to the changing expectations of consumers, business and Glasgow citizens."

Humza Yousaf said: “The Glasgow Connectivity Commission, led by Professor David Begg, will generate fresh ideas for the city and beyond on how to encourage residents on to public transport and increase travel by walking and cycling. I welcome his appointment and the expertise he will bring to the commission.

“This is another positive step in the right direction and I’m delighted that Glasgow has committed to have their low emission zone in place by the end of 2018. We are working to ensure Scotland’s four biggest cities will have a LEZ in place by the end of 2020.

“The decline of bus patronage is a trend which has impacted Glasgow and the South West most acutely, and I look forward to working with the commission to help ensure that this trend is reversed and that communities can continue to benefit from sustainable bus services

“The Scottish Government will double the active travel budget from £40 to £80 million next year in our pursuit to build an active nation. This involves making our towns and cities safer and more pleasant spaces for cyclists and pedestrians and appointing an Active Nation Commissioner to ensure delivery of world class active travel infrastructure in Glasgow and across Scotland.”

The new commission was launched at the State of the City Economy conference which is attended by 700 members of the business, government and academic sectors.

Other issues raised at a conference today include the council's plan to commission research on the likely economic picture for Glasgow as a result of Brexit.