Susan Aitken said Glasgow city centre has a “positive future” and said there are not as many empty retail units as people might think.

The leader of the council was speaking at the State of the City Economy conference where she highlighted some of the developments and changes in the city over recent years.

Responding to a question about the city centre and whether it was in decline she said investment is happening and big changes are in the pipeline.

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Aitken said that Glasgow has been hit by big changes in retail and positive change would come in the next few years.

Glasgow Times:

She said: “When I travel, I see city centres of all shapes and sizes.

"All city centres are struggling with the same challenges of retail and office space not being used.”

The leader said the compact nature of the city centre and retail concentrated on certain streets can create a certain perception.

One of the complaints about the city centre has been the number of vacant shops as a result of big-name closures.

From BHS, Watt Brothers and M&S on Sauchiehall Street to Debenhams on Argyle Street, there are a number of large store buildings now unused and looking derelict.

She added, however: “We don’t have as many empty units as you might think.”

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Aitken told the conference the city centre has a 10% vacancy rate, adding “Where they are close together that looks like decline and attracts litter, etc”.

She said the city centre task force has an action plan and that the city centre is in a phase of change.

Aitken said the challenges are related to “historic weaknesses” and said Glasgow "focussed on too few sectors” which was made worse by the pandemic, highlighting retail in particular.

She said the successful city centres are also neighbourhoods “not simply destinations” and added, “that’s the journey Glasgow is on”.

Speaking at her sixth State of the City Economy conference as council leader, she said: “There is huge investment coming into Glasgow city centre not just from the public sector.

“The private sector invests because they see it has a future.

“Our city centre has a really positive future ahead. For the next five years, we’re in a position of transition.

“Some developments are in the pipeline, you are going to, very soon, see the changes.

“We will see the physical change happen rapidly in the next few years.”