ONE of Scotland's leading architects has called for the preservation of a Glasgow landmark as proposals emerged to demolish a flagship shopping mall to be replaced by a £800m "net zero, mixed-use" neighbourhood.

Developer and site owner Landsec's plans to pull down the 23-year-old Buchanan Galleries, and linked car park and its proposals are go to a public consultation next Thursday.

Views are being sought to inform a phase one masterplan which will be put forward for planning permission early next year.

It comes seven years after a previous project which would have seen the shopping mall double in size at a cost of £400m while removing the Concert Hall steps, was shelved.

Developers had to go back to the drawing board after the plans for the extension to the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre were at first approved despite a wave of protest against the demolition of the iconic steps.

The proposals received more than 300 letters of objection and a petition against the demolition of the steps garnered around 14,000 signatures. Even so councillors approved the scheme by 11 votes to four.

But the developer Land Securities said the scheme was to be put on hold.

Now Professor Alan Dunlop, who was vocal about his concerns for the landmark seven years ago wants an assurance that the Concert Hall steps will not disappear when the fully formed plans finally materialise, fearing the threat to their future remains.

Landsec said the concept was differnet from what was previously planned and that the future of the Concert Hall steps "will be informed by the community consultation process".

Designed by Leslie Martin, the architect behind London’s Royal Festival Hall, the concert hall opened in 1990 as part of Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture. The steps which also feature a statue of the inaugural First Minister of Scotland Donald Dewar became a popular meeting place.

Glasgow Times:

But the plans had proposed for a new gathering space to be created to the south of the shopping centre extension with the statue moved a few yards from its present location.

Prof Dunlop, visiting professor at Robert Gordon University's Scott Sutherland School of Architecture who has taught at schools of architecture internationally, said the steps must be protected.

"The Buchanan Galleries are very popular and the building accommodates massive car parking provision to the north of the city centre, which would be missed," he said.

"The galleries have helped secure Glasgow's claim to be a leading shopping destination. However, I have no love for the building and none at all for Glasgow's stab at a post modern future.

"I would not object to its demolition providing something better takes its place but it has to be more than a decent design. The idea up a direct entrance to Queen Street station and the underground was first proposed by David Page in the 1980's, so not a new suggestion.

"However, what is fundamental and has made a significant contribution and positive addition to the urban fabric of the city centre are the Concert Hall steps. They have become a meeting place and lunchtime destination for Glaswegians, almost by accident. People gather there regularly. they should not be demolished and said so in 2015, when a scheme for the demolition galleries was first mooted.

"The same concerns would apply to any new proposals."

Glasgow Times: Professor Alan Dunlop of Liverpool University

Prof Alan Dunlop

The Buchanan Galleries project consultation was unveiled with words of support from Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

The owner of the mammoth shopping centre has been working with the city council on the huge rethink plan to create new city centre region with shops, offices and homes - although detailed plans are not yet available.

Proposals were to include building a concrete raft over the railway line cutting into Queen Street Station for extra public space or a building.

Glasgow City Council would need to approve any project as the head landlord of the galleries, but had been considering the use of Tax Incremental Finance to support some of the major enabling works that would be required.

While still at the concept stage, proposals for the Galleries were to be delivered over 10 years from next year.

It was estimated that over 850 construction jobs could be created each year during the build phase leading to over 9,500 permanent jobs for the city centre.

The council, which says it is working with the developers, has said that the project will give the opportunity to "improve the area around the Concert Hall steps".

It said that would allow for the "physical reconfiguration of Buchanan Galleries, enhance the new streetscape, and deliver a more connected and permeable scheme resulting from the creation of improved pedestrian linkages between Buchanan Street and Killermont Street".

And it insisted that any development of this area would have to "reflect the history of this space as a resting point, and an area for event activity, protesting and other public activities".

A full planning application is not expected till next year and it is hoped that there will be approval by Glasgow City Council in late Spring 2023.

Developers say the earliest time for any on site activity would be early 2024.

A Landsec spokesperson said: “Increasing the overall amount of open and accessible public spaces is a key priority for this development. The future of the Royal Concert Hall steps will be informed by the community consultation process.

“Landsec’s vision for Buchanan Galleries is to replace the existing mall with a new, sustainable net zero, mixed-use urban district. This would transform the area by introducing flexible buildings and additional public space designed for retail, hospitality, business and residential use to meet the changing needs of local people, visitors, businesses, and the wider city.”