Regional Review – Glasgow

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Regional Forum

We’re in Glasgow for our first ever Mix Inspired event and, while we’re here, we thought we’d gather together a few industry friends from this fine city and discuss all things Glasgow.

This vibrant centre is currently undergoing something of a cultural transformation, with a vibrant student population and multicultural influences adding to the rise of areas such as the East End and Merchant City. Has this ‘awakening’ been felt by our market? We ask Michael Laird Architects’ Gillian Stewart, Wagstaff’s Marie-Clare Riordan and Connection’s Martin Anderson to give us their views of their city. We begin by talking about the design community here in what is Scotland’s largest city by some distance in terms of population.

120725-191Gillian
‘It is a tight community – certainly compared to London. When I worked for DEGW up here I remember we were looking for two consultant designers. We advertised and interviewed six people. I helped our Managing Director with the interviews – and I knew all of them or at least I knew about them.’

‘It is a tight community – certainly compared to London. When I worked for DEGW up here I remember we were looking for two consultant designers. We advertised and interviewed six people. I helped our Managing Director with the interviews – and I knew all of them or at least I knew about them.’

Is there still a great rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow – or has Glasgow taken the lead when it comes to business?

Martin
‘Edinburgh has a castle! However, it has no motorway network. Every morning you’ll sit nose-to-tail on that road into Edinburgh. It still has the financial institutions and it still draws the tourists. It’s a very different place from here. I grew up in Glasgow and it has always been an industrial city, but now if you head across the water you can see all these digital companies moving in. It’s thriving – it’s vibrant.’

Marie-Clare
‘I think you need to get people here – and that’s ultimately what we’re now doing by opening up all these new venues etc. People still portray Glasgow s a rough city. I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t see a lot of trouble. It’s about attracting people – about attracting conferences and businesses to take a look at the city now.’

Gillian
‘I think the city marketing people are very good. I was living in London when they launched the Glasgow’s Miles Better campaign – which was back in 1983. I remember thinking ‘Really?’
It has changed though. It has a confidence.’

So has that confidence and the marketing won over major businesses?

Gillian
‘The financial services and professional services are arriving. There are some major projects currently underway in the city.’

Marie-Clare
‘Projects such as 110 Queen Street are currently underway. I think there are only three or four floors left. There is a lot happening right now. Businesses that have been in the city for some time have grown a lot and are now looking to move and find more space.’

‘Projects such as 110 Queen Street are currently underway. I think there are only three or four floors left. There is a lot happening right now. Businesses that have been in the city for some time have grown a lot and are now looking to move and find more space.’

Gillian
‘A number of these professional companies are looking for access to talent – and in particular for access to talent from the sub-continent, because these guys are really good programmers. You can get a really good curry in Glasgow – and while that’s a bit of a joke, it’s not really. There is quite a big Indian and Pakistani population in Glasgow and they clearly integrate really well and like the city. Glasgow is now quite integrated and diverse – and better for it.’

Marie-Clare
‘Greater Glasgow has a population of 1.7 million now – so it has all that labour force with 20 minutes of the centre.’

Martin
‘However, it is a horrendous two and half hour commute to Edinburgh from here.
The communications here are very strong – and
I think that is a massive advantage going forward.’

Regional Focus

2015 saw the whole of Scotland come together for a highly successful Commonwealth Games. The same coming together cannot be said for the vote on independence, which some tell us is still in danger of affecting future investment as the frisson of uncertainty leads some companies to pause before making development plans.

120725-084Scotland, however, is emerging from the global financial crisis and as all indicators show that the economy has seen a positive growth for the last 11 quarters since 2012. The principle driver for Scotland’s most recent growth has not been the service sector
(like the rest of the UK) but the construction sector.

Like most things, there are exceptions – with Aberdeen’s march of prosperity being recently muted. Although building work is evident across the city, it is clear that the impact from the price of oil going from $100 to $50 (and likely to stay there) is likely to create doubt in the minds of investors.

Glasgow is the most populous urban area in Scotland, ranked fifth in the UK, with Edinburgh 13th, yet this nation of just over five million is responsible for so many amazing inventions. You know about the telephone, Tarmac and the television but did you know about: Penicillin, anaesthetics, the telegraph, the refrigerator Dolly the Sheep (the first cloned mammal), the electric clock, stereotype printing, quinine (the cure for malaria), the toaster, the sport of golf, antisepsis (using antiseptics to fight disease), the fax machine, neoclassical economics, beta-blockers (which treat heart conditions), logarithms (in mathematics), the adhesive postage stamp and the Thermos flask? To name but a few.