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MPs wade into row over plans for £35m flats site in Glasgow

Planning row broke out in March over proposal for flats in one of Glasgow's plushest areas.

By STV News

Published 26 May 2016.

A number of MPs have waded into a row about controversial plans for a £35m flats development in one of Glasgow's plushest areas.

A planning row broke out in March after a property developer lodged an application for a multimillion-pound flats development at Park Quadrant in the city's west end.

Park Quadrant, which sits next to Kelvingrove Park, was sold by the council to English-based developer Expresso for £6.3m. The firm want to build 98 flats on the site worth around £35m.

SNP MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss, has raised the issue in parliament at Westminster and urged the city council to consider alternative development options for the site. A further nine MPs signed in support of the early day motion.

The council received more than 200 letters of objection from locals and around 80 letters of support. However, architects at the centre of the plans are now being probed over conflict of interest claims in relation to the letters of support.

The investigation is centred on accusations that several employees at Holmes Miller, the agents for the developer behind the proposals, sent the letters to Glasgow City Council. Two other engineering firms linked to the project are also involved development.

Ms Thewliss has called on the council to halt the project, claiming that sites such as Park Quadrant should be preserved for the benefit of the local community.

Glasgow SNP MPs Christopher Stephens and Patrick Grady and fellow nationalists Martyn Day, Martin Docherty, Angus MacNeil, John McNally and Paul Monaghan supported the motion as well as independent MP for Glasgow East Natalie McGarry and DUP MP Jim Shannon.

The motion states: "That this House notes with concern the sale of Park Quadrant by Glasgow City Council to Expresso Properties, who intend to build 98 new flats on the site; understands that over 160 objections to the proposed development have been received by Glasgow City Council's Planning Department.

"Further understands that an objection to the proposals was lodged on behalf of the German government due to the potential negative impact of the proposed development on the cultural activities of the Goethe-Institut, which is located in nearby Park Circus; believes that heritage sites such as Park Quadrant should be preserved for the benefit of the local community; and calls on Glasgow City Council to consider alternative development options for the Park Quadrant site."

Locals claim their alternative proposal for public gardens and a pavilion on the site has been hampered by delaying tactics by the council.

They claim officials have refused to process their planning application because they have failed to complete an environmental assessment of the site.

A spokesman for local Park and Woodlands Heritage Trust said: "The whole thing is nonsense because environmental assessments have already been carried out on behalf of Expresso Property.

"Officials are refusing to process our application because they claim to be lacking information which, we know, is already in their possession. They are also preventing our environmental team conducting new studies

"That is just one of the suspect tactics being employed to ensure our application never sees the light of day. Officials have taken up to a week to respond to each and every email from us knowing there's a time limit on the application process."

A spokesman for the council said: "The application was invalid for a number of reasons. We wrote to the applicant to try and resolve these issues, but they were not addressed."

In terms of members raising the plan in parliament, the spokesman added: "Committee will consider all representations in its deliberation."

Ms Thewliss said: "I have been contacted by a number of constituents concerned about the proposed Park Quadrant development which is totally unacceptable.

"The Early Day Motion I have tabled in the House of Commons merely reflects public opinion in the local community and I very much hope that decision makers will heed this very strong local feeling and respond accordingly."

Earlier this month STV News revealed that architects behind the Expresso plan are being investigated over complaints they acted unethically by encouraging staff to lodge letters supporting the scheme to exaggerate its popularity.

The Architects' Registration Board (ARB) and the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) are looking into complaints that Holmes Miller, Woolgar Hunter and Atelier Ten triedto mislead Glasgow City Council's planning committee with the letters of support.

It is alleged more than two dozen staff, including the Managing Director of Woolgar Hunter and several directors of Atelier Ten, wrote to the council praising the scheme without making clear they had a financial interest in the project succeeding.

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