Byres Road: rival demands pose stickiest problem in £9m quest for quality street

By Ian Marland at

No one said it would be easy – as the song goes.

And planners tasked with enhancing Byres Road have identified probably their biggest challenge.

The public were asked in February how they wanted to see the famous street improve thanks to a £9m pot of City Deal cash.

They were invited to scribble ideas and wishes for the road on multi-coloured sticky notes attached to a giant map.

Upgrade: Work to transform the public realm of Byres Road is due to start next year.

The conundrum is: a big proportion want air pollution tackled, while another chunk want more parking and better access for cars.

According to town planner Nick Wright, who is part of the team engaging the public on ideas, the challenge will be balancing these wishes.

And all this against Scottish government drives to promote sustainable transport and reduce air pollution.

“This sums up the challenge facing us as we redesign Byres Road,” said Nick.

“There’s a finite amount of space between buildings on either side of the road, typically around 20 metres.

“That 20 metre width is fixed, but it can be divided up in different ways: for example, wider or narrower pavements, with or without bus lanes, more or less parking.

“Twenty metres sounds very wide, but it soon gets eaten up.

“Imagine trying to fit in everything that people want: a pavement each side at 2 metres wide, a cycle lane each way at 2 metres wide, two traffic lanes at 5.5 metres wide, parking bays each side at 2 metres wide – that comes to 23 metres.

“And we haven’t started to think about more space for delivery vehicles, outside seating, street trees and all the other things that people have asked for.”

Packed: Partick Burgh Hall was filled with 175 people.

Nick added: “My point is that something will have to give if we want Byres Road to work for everyone.

“We will all have to compromise, whether we want more parking, more greenery, more pedestrian space or better cycling facilities.

“And the design has to be safe and attractive.

Nick Wright:

“Imagine trying to fit in everything that people want: a pavement each side at 2 metres wide, a cycle lane each way at 2 metres wide, two traffic lanes at 5.5 metres wide, parking bays each side at 2 metres wide – that comes to 23 metres.”

“We’re working through various design options on how to do that at the moment.

“After the school summer holiday, there will be public events to look at different design options.”

People are asked to keep an eye on for updates.

Cracks: Many of the comments pleaded for better pavements.

The process of public engagement over the plans is set to pick up again this month.

A timeline of action and events is as follows:

* June: A mini exhibition of public ideas will be showing at Hillhead and Partick libraries.

* Late August: Talks between the planning team and key stakeholders including Glasgow Disability Alliance, University of Glasgow, local Community Councils, BID, other businesses, BRIG, Partick Housing Association and Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

* Late August: First round of public design days/evenings presenting design work to date, with options/questions for public discussion to inform the emerging designs. Accompanied by Facebook information updates with opportunities to comment online.

* September: Second round of public design days/evenings: area-specific sessions to further develop design proposals.

* Autumn 2017 to spring 2018: Formal public consultations on design and Traffic Regulation Order, using libraries exhibitions, Facebook and Mailchimp to display and promote the consultations.

* Spring 2018 to late 2019: Information updates using Facebook, Mailchimp and libraries exhibitions during tendering, final approval and construction

* Autumn 2018: Construction to start.

* 2019: Construction completion.

Scores of ideas were generated by the public writing out their aims and wishes for Byres Road back in February.

Nick said: “We’ve sorted through all those ideas that people told us about – and we’ve fixed the sticky notes to that map.

Ideas: The public write down suggestions for what should take shape on Byres Road.

“The local elections and now the general election have held us up a little – but we’re moving forward now.”

Money for the upgrade is coming from the UK and Scottish governments under the Glasgow Region City Deal.

Under the scheme which will fund capital projects across the region over 10 years, councils can borrow money their share of the funding.

The council has appointed Partick-based architects Benton Scott-Simmons to lead the design team.

* The public can follow events on a dedicated Facebook page