NGS Thinks...

March 2018 – Custom House proposals

January 2018, with some revisions March 2018

Some thoughts on a proposed design by Sheppard Robson for the developer Artisan St. Enoch Quarter Limited, a subsidiary of Artisan Real Estate Investors Limited (Isle of Man) follow.

(The proposal is for the conversion of Glasgow’s Custom House into part of a hotel, and incorporates the demolition of a stable block to the rear, and tenements on and adjacent Dixon St site, to enable construction of the larger part of the hotel.)

Overall, we feel supportive of the developer’s approach both in terms of early engagement with civic groups such as ourselves, and the general design approach.

However the detail that is yet to be provided at PAN consultation stage should be closely scrutinised when the actual Planning Application is submitted. It may be mutually beneficial if we were to have the opportunity to review elevations and final massing at some stage prior to the planning application being submitted.

We are pleased with the stepping-down of the mass of the new part of the building towards the Clyde. This would appear to avoid overwhelming the historic Custom House building – but more detail would need to be seen to have an idea of how the facade would truly work with the Custom House and how it relates to the new Premier Inn.

Regarding the proposed demolition of the Dixon St tenements, given the weathered condition of the external stone work and the fire damage to the interior and structure there previously seemed little to be gained by arguing for their retention. Now that their demolition is compulsory, these considerations have been rendered immaterial. Proper handling of the Dixon St site should bring the rewards of an enhanced connection between St Enoch Square and the river. But the materials, massing and elevation articulation of the corner building that it is to replace it will need to be carefully considered. This is a prominent and important river side site that links to St. Enoch Square and Buchanan Street beyond.

In conclusion: we applaud the approach of the developers in seeking to engage with civic groups and the wide population – this indicates a positive attitude that makes any future planning application more likely to progress without frustration, lost time and resources. From what we have seen, the proposal seems respectful enough of an important historic building, and the loss of the Dixon St tenements regrettable, but unavoidable. However, we would require further information and visualisation to be able to offer a more unqualified opinion – especially as regards the facade, materials, relationship to the proposed hotel building opposite, and the overall impact of the   rear part of the hotel upon St Enoch Square.