Council presents findings on Byres Road public realm project consultation

At the council’s Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm Committee today (2 October) the findings of the consultation were presented, and these findings will help to inform final designs before construction work begins.

City Deal funding has been allocated for the public realm scheme on Byres Road in order to improve place quality and physical connections with the University of Glasgow, and this work will both complement the significant capital investment proposed the by University through its campus redevelopment and support the ongoing economic contribution of Byres Road as a major retail and visitor destination for the city and its visitors.

The initial design proposals for Byres Road were set out in the Byres Road Placemaking Report which was approved by the council in January 2017, and which aimed to create a people-focussed place that enhances the pedestrian experience, promotes social interaction and dwell time, enhances the economic vibrancy of shops and services and improves its cycle-friendliness and environmental performance.

From that point, a number of consultation events, design workshops and in-street shopper surveys have informed the concept design.  Key features of the design included:

  • Widening and upgrading of footways to make pedestrian movement along the street more relaxed and enjoyable and to reduce the width of crossing points;
  • Introduction of step free crossings to give pedestrians priority at junctions with side streets;
  • Enhancing key corners to create distinct and attractive spaces along the street where people can sit and rest;
  • Using greenery to delineate space and provide seasonal interest particularly at street corners;
  • Reducing the speed of traffic through the introduction of a 20mph speed limit;
  • Reducing the width of the carriageway to 6m and removing approximately 50% of on-street car parking spaces to create additional pedestrian and cycling space;
  • Introduction of a one way gyratory system at the southern end of the street to discourage traffic that is using Byres Road as a means of accessing the Clydeside Expressway; and
  • Introduction of 1.5m wide mandatory cycle lanes including a contraflow cycle lane to allow cyclists a continuous route between Great Western Road and Partick Cross.

These concept designs were then published for a public consultation between 23 May – 27 June this year – with 550 responses received – and some of the key findings include:

  • Approximately 60% of respondents agreed that the proposals would increase accessiblity for the elderly, the visually and physically impaired and those pushing prams.
  • Just over half of respondents felt that the proposals would improve the quality of life of local residents.  Those who lived locally were slightly more supportive of the proposals (55% of residents agreed that the proposals would improve amenity compared to just over 20% who disagreed).
  • Just over half of respondents agreed that the proposed design would provide additional civic space for people to rest, socialise and to hold events. 
  • Approximately 44% of respondents felt that the design would encourage shoppers to spend more time in the area helping businesses and the economy.  In comparison 32% disagreed.
  • Just under half of participants (46%) agreed that proposals would encourage a growth in those travelling to the street by foot or bike however a similar number (44%) disagreed. 
  • Respondents were split on the issue of pollution – approximately 40% felt that the proposals would result in an improvement in air quality while a similar proportion disagreed. 
  • Approximately 90% of all respondents recognised that the scheme went some way to delivering the vision set out within the Byres Road Placemaking Plan. 
  • The consultation responses highlighted the quality of cycle infrastructure and reduction in traffic volumes as areas that required further consideration.   In comparison there was significant support for measures to improve the quality of footways and the wider pedestrian environment – this reflects the fact that all shoppers, regardless of whether they arrive by car, bus, bike or train, ultimately end up as pedestrians. 

Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction at Glasgow City Council, said: “Byres Road is a key destination in Glasgow, valued by residents and visitors alike for its mix of shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as being a place of work or study.  This project offers an opportunity to improve the street for everyone who uses it, and enhance its attractiveness to businesses along it. By taking into account the findings of the public consultation, we will be able to create a Byres Road that meets the economic, social and environmental needs of everyone with a stake in it.”

Council officers have reviewed the consultation findings and are now considering measures that could be introduced in order to improve the proposed cycle infrastructure and reduce traffic volumes while maintaining the quality of the pedestrian environment which was identified as a strength of the existing proposals.  The introduction of design changes will be influenced by further engagement with key stakeholders and completion of additional traffic modelling that will test a number of scenarios that aim to reduce traffic volumes.  As a result of this additional consultation and design work, the project is now estimated to begin on site in late 2019.

The public realm work on Byres Road forms part of the wider Clyde Waterfront and West End Innovation Quarter project for the Glasgow City Region City Deal, aiming to regenerate the river corridor as an attractive urban quarter that attracts jobs and investment and makes a significant contribution to regional economic growth.