Can ‘culture and heritage’ turn the tide on Sauchiehall Street?

A project designed to boost local economies and instil ‘pride in place’ in the UK’s towns and cities has devoted £350,000 towards driving the economic and social renewal of Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

Beset by multiple blows in recent years, no-one familiar with Sauchiehall St can be unaware that it is currently struggling. A brace of Art School fires, the second of which took out the keystone ABC venue, has cast a pall over the top end of the street, while the intervening fire at Victoria’s Nightclub, coupled with the demise of British Home Stores and the retreat of Marks & Spencer, has left the bottom end looking very sad indeed.

Throw in the sluggish progress of council works to upgrade the pedestrian areas, and what was once the city’s premier street for both retail and hospitality is looking very much like the stereotypical setting for a low-budget zombie movie.

So it is as a ray of hope that one must greet the news that Glasgow Life, the charity that leads culture and sport in Glasgow, has been awarded £350,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the development of the ‘Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District’ plan.

Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, the Heritage Fund and local stakeholders including Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Film Theatre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are now working together with a collective aim to use culture and heritage to drive the economic and social renewal of the street.

The £350,000 funded development phase of the project will run from April 2024 to October 2025, with a dedicated project team working with the people who live in, work on and visit Sauchiehall Street to ‘ensure its future acknowledges its proud past by drawing on its strong cultural associations, from dance and music to film and theatre’.

The project team will also work to boost footfall in the area and influence wider policy and infrastructure developments on the street. The first phase of the work will form the basis for a further funding application to the Heritage Fund.

Chair of Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council Convenor for Culture, Sport and International Relation, Bailie Annette Christie, said: “This support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund is fantastic news for Sauchiehall Street and will help to revitalise what is one of Glasgow’s most iconic streets.

“Sauchiehall Street has a rich cultural heritage, and the funding marks a major milestone in our city’s efforts to deliver positive economic and social change in the area through the Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District. The transformative plans for this historic area ensure that culture and heritage organisations, businesses, residents and visitors alike will benefit for years to come.”

How it was…

National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland, Caroline Clark, said: “This funding from our Heritage Places programme is an important first step in our long-term commitment to support heritage-driven regeneration, working closely with stakeholders, including the local community and businesses, to revitalise the area.

“We welcome the designation of ‘Sauchiehall Street: Culture and Heritage District’ as a starting point, and a clear commitment to keep this iconic street at the heart of the story of Glasgow’s people and place.”