The battle for Otago Lane

Published

Photo: Tom Bonnick

Photo: Tom Bonnick

Ross Mathers

Attempts to develop Otago Lane have been declared invalid at their first attempt by Glasgow City Council.

The historic lane in Glasgow’s West End has been targeted for massive building work by developer Hugh Scott where he has proposed to construct several blocks of flats up to eight storeys high and further commercial units.

The proposals have angered local residents and business owners who claim the development would compromise the unique character of the area.

In addition, the futures of Otago Lane’s popular businesses — Tchai Ovna tearoom, Voltaire and Rousseau bookshop, Mixed Up Records and Ken Chapelle Clock Repair — could potentially be in danger if the work goes ahead.

Shuna Scott Sendall, a resident of the lane for fifteen years and a founding member of the campaign ‘Save Otago Lane!’, explained how the development would affect her.

She said: “I have always lived here, literally within 200 metres, and I am pretty much going to have to move. These new flats will be worth a
fortune, but mine won’t.”

Plans of the initial application show the loss of the car park and green space in the lane with the remaining mews building virtually encircled by flats — bringing up issues such as privacy and light being compromised.

Sendall said: “It’s going to look bad from the other side of the river; it’s going to cut into the green area; it’s going to kill off the parking.”

However, with 1887 signatures currently on the petition, a well established website and a Facebook group of over 5,400 members, it seems the discontent has reached Glasgow City Council.

The dismissal of the application will significantly complicate the developers’ plans, as new planning legislation means the second application should be a more open process involving a three-month statutory consultation period with interested parties.

Ken Clark, the Principal Planner at Glasgow City Council explained the current situation: “A period of community consultation is required to take place before a new application can be submitted. The Council have received the Proposal of Application Notice which starts this process and any new application can be lodged 12 weeks from the receipt of the Notice.”

Pauline McNeill, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, intends to strongly oppose the second application. She said: “I am going to be taking a hard line on this. It’s about time this madness stopped in the West End. People are getting more and more hemmed in by more and more buildings and planning applications. It’s a tiny bit of land and it’s a crucial bit of land and breathing space for that part of Hillhead.”

There are also questions as to the legality of the development under planning regulations.

McNeill said: “It’s a bad policy. It contravenes every aspect of planning policy on green space and the size of the buildings.”

Cited in the official petition sent to the Planning and Development Department, Glasgow City Council’s own policy on such matters states that “new developments must respect its historic context in volume, scale, form, materials and quality”. This, the campaigners argue, has been disregarded by the developers.

The consultation period is due to begin in the coming months.