NEARLY 700 new "highly affordable" homes for rent and co-living could be built in the heart of the city.

A planning application for a new residential development on the site of Portcullis House at Charing Cross in Glasgow has been submitted to the council.

Watkin Jones Group has lodged the application for the former HMRC building on India Street, which would see the demolition of the existing building and construction of a build to rent (BTR) and co-living development of 685 new homes.

Glasgow Times: New co-living space for Glasgow

The firms says its plans would keep new graduates in Glasgow while helping repopulate the city centre and boost the economy.

Iain Smith, Planning Director for Watkin Jones Group, said: "We’re thrilled to submit our planning application for this exciting scheme at Portcullis House, regenerating a brownfield site to create sustainable new homes for people in the city.

"By ensuring there is a good supply of high-quality rented housing in Glasgow we will meet growing demand, which will benefit people across the local area and beyond.

Glasgow Times: New co-living space for Glasgow

"The design of our proposed homes will help to keep skilled young people in the city who will boost Glasgow’s economy.

"These people are actively looking for a sustainable and desirable place to live in central location with excellent transport links and places to shop or socialise.

"This will repopulate the city centre and benefit local businesses as part of an overall renewal of the West End.

"Build to rent and co-living developments are built for the long-term, so our focus is on creating a great place to live for decades with high-quality rented accommodation at competitive prices that appeal to a wide-range of people.

Glasgow Times: New co-living space for Glasgow

"There is huge demand in Glasgow for these homes, which offers long-term security of tenure, combined with the flexibility of renting."

Plans show the development would be made up of a 279-unit BTR building to the north of the site, next to Charing Cross Station, and a 406 studio Co-Living development to the south of the site, next to the Scottish Power Building.

Prior to submitting the planning application, Watkin Jones Group says it undertook extensive consultation with local representatives, community groups and political representatives.

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said the scheme represents a "fantastic" investment in the city.

He added: "Delivering high-quality housing such as this, which is desperately needed, will address increasing demand.

"It will also serve to retain skilled young people in the city as well as regenerating the city centre, which is a key aspiration for the city council.

"Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Living Strategy outlines a target to double the city centre’s population to 40,000 over the next 15 years and increasing density in the city centre is essential to its long- term success and sustainability.

"Schemes such as this do exactly that.

"The site has excellent transport links and local businesses will clearly benefit from these proposals.

"Innovative developments such as this are to be greatly welcomed."

The firm said it has placed an emphasis on high-quality design that fully embraces the Placemaking Principles endorsed by Glasgow City Council.

It says there is strong demand for these homes in the city centre, providing high-quality rental accommodation in a highly sustainable location, delivering much needed places to rent with easy access to transport links, amenities and places of work.

Designed to the highest environmental standards, including the use of low and zero carbon technologies such as heat pumps and low energy lighting, the development could include retail, food and drink, office and leisure.

Glasgow Times: New co-living space for Glasgow

In view of its accessibility by public transport and pedestrian/cycle routes, and the proximity of the multi-storey car park on Elmbank Crescent, no on-site parking for residents is proposed.

The public will be able to enjoy the top floor of the development, which will be available through a booking system.

The redevelopment of the brownfield site will form a significant part of an overall renewal of the west end of the city centre, acting as a catalyst for change.

Proposals are also fully in line with Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Living Strategy which outlines a target of doubling the city centre’s population to 40,000 over the next 15 years.

Glasgow has fallen behind other major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool in repopulating its centre.

As living space becomes more important post-pandemic, Portcullis House could ensure the city remains economically competitive with other large cities in the UK which can offer similar high quality residential development.

Glasgow Times: New co-living space for Glasgow

The Watkin Jones Group has extensive experience of working in Glasgow, completing 10 schemes totalling nearly 4000 student beds over the last decade.

The Group has undertaken major BTR schemes throughout the UK, completing its first purpose-built scheme in Leeds in 2016.

It is also a developer of co-living, with a scheme under construction in Exeter and another application going through the planning application process.

The Portcullis House scheme has been designed by architect Hawkins Brown’s local office in Glasgow.

They received consent proposal for a 4-star hotel on St Vincent Street and are also currently masterplanners for the regeneration of Custom House Quay and Carlton Place for Glasgow City Council.