Parts of Glasgow’s Avenues programme ‘on hold’ as costs take toll

Parts of Glasgow's Avenues programme 'on hold' as costs take toll

A number of the streets that were due to get active travel and public realm makeovers under the Glasgow city centre Avenues programme have been put on hold until a review is carried out into the project’s affordability.

Funded by the Glasgow City Region City Deal, the £115 million programme will transform city centre streets to create attractive and people-focused high-quality places forming part of a network of pedestrian and cycle priority routes that feature trees and rain gardens, enhanced lighting and bring improved connectivity.

A programme update which went before a council committee this week revealed that the projects at Cathedral Street, Hope Street, Glassford Street, Elmbank Street / Elmbank Crescent plus roads in the International Financial Services District (IFSD) are now ‘on hold’ as part of the wider programme review.

A report updating city councillors stated: “Programme delivery over recent years has been significantly impacted by issues associated with Brexit, Covid-19 and the crisis in Ukraine with high inflation continuing to impact the construction sector and thus the delivery of the Avenues.

“Given current market conditions and resulting budgetary pressures, the Avenues Programme is currently being reviewed as part of the full City Deal Infrastructure Investment Programme, which is being undertaken at the request of Glasgow City Region, with the agreement of UK and Scottish Governments.

“Council officers are working to complete this exercise for spring 2024.

“Project teams are continually assessing cost savings and more effective ways of working throughout design development and construction.

“This is evident from the successful tendering of the Holland St / Pitt St Avenue that has been on site since March 2023 and the successful retendering of Sauchiehall Precinct and Cambridge Street Avenues, which commenced on site in early September 2023.”

Sauchiehall Avenue, between Charing Cross and Rose Street, was the pilot project for the programme and was completed in 2019. Progress on the rest of the programme was also summarised in the report.

It said:

Block A - Argyle Street West (Kingston Bridge to Union St); Argyle Street East (Union St to Glasgow Cross) and Dixon Street/St Enoch Square; Cathedral Street; North Hanover Street (Cathedral St to Kyle St) and Kyle Street; Sauchiehall Precinct; The Underline Phase 1 (Cambridge Street) and The Underline Phase 2 (New City Road).

  • Argyle Street West is currently out to tender to secure a construction contractor with works due to commence in late Spring 2024;
  • Argyle St East is in the detailed design stage with tendering for a construction contractor to commence in early 2024. Dixon Street / St Enoch Square designs will be completed, however the tendering for a construction contractor will likely be delayed as part of the wider programme review;
  • Cathedral Street has been placed on hold as part of the wider programme review;
  • North Hanover Street and Kyle Street are nearing the end of the detailed design stage with tendering for a construction contractor to take place in early 2024;
  • Sauchiehall Street Precinct and The Underline Phase 1 - Cambridge Street are currently on site as a single contract and is for completion in Summer 2024; and
  • The Underline Phase 2 - New City Road is currently on hold due to the works being undertaken at the M8 Woodside Viaduct.

Block B - Holland Street/Pitt Street; Elmbank Street/Elmbank Crescent; Stockwell/Glassford Street; Broomielaw/Clyde Street; and High Street.

  • The Holland Street / Pitt Street construction works started on site in March 2023 and are due to complete in July 2024. The southern section of Holland St is substantially complete and has been reopened to traffic;
  • Elmbank Street / Elmbank Crescent delivery has been delayed as part of the wider programme review;
  • Stockwell Street design work has recommenced with trial pits recently undertaken. Glassford Street delivery has been delayed as part of the wider programme review;
  • Broomielaw / Clyde Street concept layouts are currently being completed for public consultation at the end of 2023; and
  • High Street proposals are at an early stage with options to accommodate cycling infrastructure being formalised as part of the concept design process that commenced in October 2023.

Block C - George Square; St Vincent Street/St Vincent Place and Cochrane Street; West George Street and George Street; John Street; Hanover/Miller Street; and Dundas Street and Dundas Lane.

  • George Square and the surrounding streets (Phase 1) has entered the detailed design phase and a planning application for George Square was recently submitted;
  • Work is underway to determine the cost and scope of works required to the statues within George Square and a separate report will be presented at a later date; and
  • Avenues within Block C that are on the periphery of George Square are currently being assessed as part of the wider programme review.

Block D - International Financial Services District (IFSD) west; and Hope Street.

  • Currently on hold as part of the wider programme review.

The supporting and complementary £23m Avenues Plus programme - funded through Places for Everyone, an active travel infrastructure fund backed by Transport Scotland and administered by Sustrans - will see the development of a series of high-quality walking and cycling links with communities on the fringes of the city centre, featuring cycling storage hubs and programmes to encourage the use of these links, bringing health, social and environmental benefits to Glasgow.

Block S (Avenues Plus) - South Portland Street; Dobbie’s Loan; Duke Street and John Knox Street; and Cowcaddens Road.

  • All the Block S Avenues have completed the concept design stage, with approval from the GCC Avenues Board and Sustrans;
  • South Portland Street detailed design process is ongoing, and it is anticipated that the construction tender package will be ready for publication mid-2024;
  • Cowcaddens Road and Dobbies Loan designs are progressing, and it is expected that the construction tender packages for both of these will be ready for publication in late 2024;
  • Duke Street and John Knox Street, designs are progressing and it is anticipated that the construction tender packages for both will be ready for publication in late 2024; and
  • Automated secure cycle parking facilities in the city centre also form part of the Block S project and this pilot project was launched in September 2023. In total there are 20 parking hubs, with a capacity of 116 cycle parking spaces in various locations of the city centre, providing a safe option to park a bike and encouraging more people to travel in this way.

Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “There has been a step change in the pace of delivery in recent months with The Avenues and Avenues Plus programmes on-site and delivering projects, and this momentum will continue to increase in the coming years. These programmes will help change the city centre as part of the significant transformation which it will undergo in the short and medium-term, becoming a more attractive, healthier and better-connected area.”

Scottish Government cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy Neil Gray said: “I welcome progress in this important project, which will encourage more walking and cycling and improve the experience of visitors and residents in Glasgow’s main shopping and business district. We are committed to supporting the city and the wider regional economy through £500m funding for the Glasgow City Region City Deal. This can transform the city’s streets and boost one of the most important local economies in Scotland.”

UK Government minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: “With the Avenues Programme now well underway, we are a step closer to transforming the area into a hugely attractive place for people to shop and visit. The UK Government is investing £50m in Glasgow’s most iconic streets and civic spaces as part of our £524m support for the Glasgow City Region Deal.”

Katherine Soane, grand manager for Places for Everyone at Sustrans, said: “We’re delighted to see the progress that is being made on the Glasgow Avenues Plus project. The new secure cycle lockers that have been introduced this year are already making it easier and cheaper for people to get to where they need to go across the city centre. Once construction gets underway on street layout and active travel improvements in the area, the benefits people will feel for walking, wheeling, and cycling will be immense.”

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