The Merchant City Initiative is a major programme of public and private sector development, now nearing completion and geared to driving and supporting the physical, environmental, economic and social regeneration of the Merchant City and Trongate area – Glasgow’s historical and cultural hub.
The vision of the initiative has been to ensure that underused spaces and buildings are developed and regenerated using the highest standards of design and sustainability and that the streets are calmed of traffic and greened using traditional salvaged materials to become a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. The creative and cultural industries are also given the best opportunities to flourish hand in hand with commercial, retail and businesses that are good neighbours to the vibrant residential community.
“The Merchant City initiative makes a lot of projects viable which would not otherwise have been so, and brings a lot of cash and development into the area,” said Mr Ewan Curtis of the Merchant City Initiative. He added that an important element of the scheme was to attract creative and cultural industries to the area and to establish a ‘creative hub’.
He said that the current Phase two of the scheme, that commenced in 2006 and is now nearing completion, follows on from the initial phase started in 2000.
Current works on site in the programme include: Hutcheson Hall and King Street South block, being carried out by CBC Stone, and Tollbooth Steeple and Merchant Steeple by City Building/ CBC Stone; 45 and 49 High Street shop fronts by DH Allan; Ramshorn Church by Laings Traditional Masonry Ltd; Public Realm works in Virginia Street and Wilson Street by JRB Construction; public realm works in New Wynd by McLays and public realm improvements in Merchant Wynd by John McGeady.
Works to the ‘A’ listed Hutcheson Hall have just been completed in a £450,000 programme carried out by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust on behalf of the owners, National Trust for Scotland. The works have encompassed repairs to the roof with new flashings and cast iron rainwater goods; repainting in Keim mineral; repairs to timber windows, doors and louvres and repainting and gilding of the clock faces and weather vane.
The building is now resplendent at the top of recently completed public realm works to Hutcheson St. It is currently unoccupied although NTS and the City Council are actively pursuing a long-term use. Funding for the works was secured from Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, ERDF, Scottish Arts Council and a commercial loan.
The Tollbooth and Merchant steeples in the area are some of the last medieval buildings in the city. A grant of over £200,000 was made by the Initiative (match funded by Glasgow City Council) for restoration works now on site. Both steeples are iconic in the city and these works should ensure that their future is assured.
The project at South Block King Street is a very exciting conversion of a C listed warehouse by WASPS (www.waspsstudios.org.uk). Works are now on site with a £275,000 grant from the Initiative as part of a £3.5 million programme of repairs and conversion.
At 45 and 49 High Street, works are almost complete on the reinstatement of the original shop fronts to two units on the High Street, which are currently occupied by two charities (Friends of the Britannia Music Hall and Impact Arts (a leading community arts based charity www.impactarts.co.uk).
At Ramshorn Church, the THI has awarded a grant of £75,000 to £200,000 for a programme of works to carry out repairs to the roof and stonework alongside paint removal and repairs to the railings.
The phase 2 works are due to be completed in August.