CITY council officials hope the first major changes to the traffic arrangements at George Square can be in place for June this year, when Glasgow hosts European Championship football matches.
The initial phase of proposals would include a ban on vehicles on the east and west sides of the square and complete removal of parking.
It’s expected that the long-term preferred option will also include public transport and cycling corridors on the north and south sides.
A report due to go before councillors states: “A phased approach will be taken to the project. This relates to the desire to utilise George Square for the UCI Cycling Championships in 2023, as well as for the European Championships in 2020.
“The objective will be to deliver the new traffic layout by June 2020. This will involve temporary measures, with permanent changes to existing road infrastructure to be introduced in phases thereafter.
“It is proposed that the redevelopment of George Square is delivered as part of the wider Avenues programme, ensuring that the design process, level of quality and consistency of both projects are integrated and aligned. The project scope will therefore include the George Street and St Vincent Street Avenues, and George Square.
“In addition, the intention is to include a public realm treatment for Miller Street and Hanover Street within the design strategy. This will deliver a quality pedestrian connection from George Square to Argyle Street, and will also connect the Argyle Street and North Hanover Street Avenues.
“It will also be important to develop a sustainable solution for the interface with Queen Street Station that effectively delivers the necessary accessibility and servicing requirements, with public transport and active travel facilities and infrastructure as appropriate.
“The precise scope of works will be established as the design process is progressed. While there is a broad understanding of where public priorities and opinions lie, the detail will be developed through a further process of intensive analysis and public engagement.”
The George Square project will become part of the Block C Avenues Design Contract, which is currently in development. Block C is expected to comprise the following areas — George Square, Miller Street/Hanover Street, John Street, International Financial Services District West, Hope Street, St Vincent Street and St Vincent Place, George Street.
The report states: “George Square and its immediate surrounds will be an early deliverable of this contract.
“Based on the outline scope of works for George Square, the estimated cost of the works is £8million to £10million. The works proposed for Miller Street/Hanover Street are estimated to cost £2million to £3million. The cost of both projects will be dependent on the final design elements, and will be finalised on completion of the design works. Funding for both projects will be met from within existing capital budgets, including City Deal funding.”
Works prior to the UEFA Championships in June 2020 will focus on the new traffic layout. The overarching objectives are to create a more pedestrian-friendly space by:
— Closing the roads at the east and west ends of the Square
— Removing parking around the Square
— Removing traffic circulation around the Square
— Enhancing a pedestrian route from George Square to Miller Street
— Increasing the widths of footways to the north and south sides (post-2023)
— Providing step-free access across the Square (post-2023)
All existing features of the ‘inner square footprint’, such as statues and grass beds will be remaining until after the UCI Championships in 2023 with designs being developed over the coming months.
The report explains: “The objective is to deliver the reconfigured traffic layout, including the removal of parking, preferably in time for the UEFA European Football Championships in June 2020 (subject to the Traffic Regulation Order [TRO] process). It should be noted that the north side will remain in its current configuration until the emerging City Centre Transport Strategy is further developed.
“The removal of traffic from George Square will require statutory consultation to be undertaken as part of the TRO process. Due to the widespread impact of such a measure, there is a risk of objection which in turn could require an independent hearing. Should this course of action arise it could add up to 24 months to the process before a judicial finding is made. Delivering the revised layout in the proposed timescale will be dependent on obtaining early agreement from SPT [Strathclyde Partnership for Transport] and other statutory consultees
“The reconfigured traffic layout would involve temporary features and facilities, as opposed to any permanent public realm works, all of which will be progressed after 2023.
“It is emphasised that final confirmation of the traffic solution will be dependent on alignment with the emerging City Centre Transport Strategy. Extensive and early stakeholder engagement on the traffic options will be undertaken with a view to developing collaborative and sustainable solutions that will enable the project timeline to be maintained.
“The traffic solution for George Square will have a critical impact on the functionality and future operation of not just the local area, but also the wider city-region.”