THE transformation of one of the city centre's most iconic streets has provided a much-needed lift to residents, community leaders have said.

On Wednesday Glasgow City Council unveiled the final scene on Sauchiehall Street following the culmination of the Avenues project.

Five years on from the original consultation with residents, those living in and around the stretch of road in Garnethill are ecstatic to have such a welcoming space on their doorsteps.

With significantly reduced vehicle numbers travelling by, as well as clear walkways for pedestrians, the street now has an open an bright feel, much improved from the car-dominated road it was before.

The completion comes after two devastating fires on and around Sauchiehall Street, with the former Victoria's nightclub blaze in March 2018 followed just months later by the ravaging of the Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh building, as well as the O2 ABC.

Those living nearby faced months of disruption, with some forced from their homes for months, and Sauchiehall Street fully closed off until August last year.

Residents now say, after a traumatic couple of years for the area, positive steps such as this are a breath of fresh air.

READ MORE: First look at final product as Glasgow's Sauchiehall Avenue project reaches completion

Jane Sutherland, chair of Garnethill Community Council said: "It's a phenomenal asset to the city, and now that we have it here it's a lovely change to what was before. A much improved environment for pedestrians and cyclists and people who are not in vehicles.

"Thank goodness the work is done now and we can enjoy it. I think there's been an ongoing delight in how things are manifesting. Obviously the cycle path is a tremendous benefit, and it puts us as a city for the 21st century with these kind of amenities.

"Being the city centre location that we are, we do have a number of challenges as a residential area, but we are a strong wee community, an urban village really. And what a magnificent thoroughfare we have now.

READ MORE: Finnieston could help fire-hit Sauchiehall Street fight back from trade slump

"I think this has been a lift for the community, now we can settle into it. With the ravaged Mac and ABC building, and fears of what may happen and the impact roundabout, it was a challenge, but as we saw the work going along, we are very happy we have what we have. It's a pretty damn fine thing."

The project was designed and delivered after consultation and collaboration with local residents, businesses and organisations, and aims to regenerate this part of one of the most recognisable streets in Scotland.

Key features of the project include a new, two-way cycle path; junction upgrades; 27 new trees; new bus shelters, cycle stands, and seating; and intelligent street lighting.

Design measures that address access issues for mobility impaired users have also been incorporated.

READ MORE: Plans for Glasgow Avenues makeover unveiled as council consultation opens

Sauchiehall Avenue is to be delivered across Glasgow city centre in a £115million programme - the biggest of its kind in the UK.

The Avenue has significantly improved the physical environment of this east/west corridor which - at Charing Cross - acts as a gateway to the city centre, and the project improves connectivity and access between and to the many businesses, offices, bars, restaurants, venues, shops and other attractions in the area.

Those working in the area say they expect to see marked improvements over the coming weeks and months.

Cafe Antipasti's Julie Douglas said: "The biggest thing we are hearing is when people come into the restaurant they are saying how much better the street looks compared to what it did.

"What a lovely place this is to be now. You just have to look at the trees and all those different specimens, and the bike points as well. People are using the street and they are using it for the purpose it was built for.

READ MORE: Sauchiehall Street fire: Iconic street to rise from the ashes with new hotel plan

"All the businesses around will now start to see a benefit now that it is complete and people know it is a nice place to come to."

The strategic need for Sauchiehall Avenue and the Avenues programme has its roots in the economic crash of 2008 and the subsequent impact on city centres and their retailers in particular.

The programme is a part of the response to these issues, and will help to allow the city centre to be competitive, with a number of other projects in the pipeline across the city.

Politicians, including Councillor Susan Aitken and Cabinet Secretary michael Matheson, were on hand to praise the work done by planners on the design.

While the council leader recognises the city may be lagging behind other centres in being user-friendly, this is one move to remedying that.

READ MORE: Catriona Stewart: Sauchiehall Street is a role model for a new type of high street

Councillor Aitken added: "It's an amazing thing for the city. But it's not just a good thing, it's an essential thing, completely necessary.

"Glasgow city centre has fallen behind our competitors, particularly in mainland Europe, over the past 30 years.

"We used to be good at this, we pedestrianised parts of Sauchiehall Street and Argyle Street. We made Buchanan Street one of the greatest streets on these islands.

"But we stopped, didn't follow through with that principle of putting people at the heart of our streets. We need to learn how to do that again and it is essential for our economy.

"For the health of our citizens, we need to rebalance that space between traffic and people, and for our response to the climate emergency. We have a lot of work to do, so all our policies need to be geared towards reducing our carbon emissions."