Broomielaw for Business

Jim Fitzsimons of Capella Group considers the regeneration of the Broomielaw, the role of the IFSD in that vital redevelopment, and the development plans which will shape the future for this important city centre location. This article is based on a talk given at Waterfront Expo Scotland 2011.

With over 1.5m sq ft of new floorspace and 15,000 new jobs, Glasgow's International Financial Services District has become the new business quarter for the city. Major new office developments with large floorplates have led the way. Investment in infrastructure such as dual resilience broadband, and over £25m in new public realm and bridge connections have given the area a vibrant, modern feel.

Merchant history

In the 18th and 19th century Broomielaw Quay was at the heart of the commercial heart of the success and wealth creation in the city. From here, boats sailed to all corners of the globe, and brought back cargoes which made Glasgow one of the most important trading ports in Europe, earning the city the title of second city of the empire. However, during the 20th century its importance gradually diminished and the surrounding area became derelict.

Shaped for finance

In the 1990's Glasgow City Council put together a plan to redevelop the Broomielaw area. Because of the much larger 'grid' compared to the rest of the city centre, the area between the Broomielaw and Argyle Street was ideally suited to accommodate buildings with large floorplates - just what financial services companies were often looking for. So in 2001 the IFSD initiative was created to attract financial services companies to the city.

To date, over 1.5m ft2 of new floorspace has been built in the Broomielaw area. It is home to some of the leading financial services companies such as RBS, Lloyds TSB, Axa, Capgemini, Ace Insurance and Strathclyde Pension Fund. Recently it has also attracted other professional services companies such as Macroberts solicitors and BDO Stoy Hayward and Atkins.

Jobs and growth

Over the first 8 years of the project (and this is as far as the stats go at the moment) the IFSD has created over 15,000 jobs in Financial & Business services.

It has had a direct impact on development in the City and can be attributed to the successful development of over 2m sq ft of new office space.

The total investment by occupiers, developers and service providers such as BT and in public realm works is £1bn

And the importance of the financial services sector to Glasgow is borne out in these figures: out of 52,000 business services jobs,  26,000 are in financial services, 30% of Scotland's jobs in the sector.

Future for the city

The IFSD has been identified as one of Scotland's 5 key growth opportunities. A recent study (by the Cambridge Institute) estimates growth in the UK in the sector of 3% over the next 5 years and 3.5% over the following 5 years. Assuming Glasgow grabs a share based solely on its existing base, it shows the opportunity to attract a further 8,000 - 9,000 jobs over the next decade.

Measuring the impact

To appreciate the significance of IFSD to developers, I looked at the 4 new office buildings which I have been involved in building over the past 10 years: Equinox in Cadogan St, 4&5 Atlantic Quay, and the Capella building.

Of the space let, 79% has been let to Financial services companies.

The construction work for the 4 buildings involved almost 1000 people and created the equivalent of 180 full time jobs over 2 years. When you consider that the norm in the city is to have at least 5 new-builds under construction in any 2 year period, you can see the impact that construction has on employment, and hence the need to see initiatives which encourage development to take place.

Looking ahead

A number of important proposals are in the pipeline. Our own Atlantic Square scheme has planning consent for 225,00 sq ft of space including proposals for a new covered courtyard.

Last month, Marlebone received planning consent for 295,000 sq ft of offices, retail and apartments, and further along on the other side of the Kingston Bridge at Central Quay, Goodmans have produced a new masterplan for up to 500k sq ft of offices.

And again emphasising how the area is developing in a wider context, we have just received planning consent for series of pavilions along the waterfront for up to 8 bars and restaurants which will create a major new leisure destination for workers, visitors and Glasgow's residents.

Alongside these major developments, improvements to infrastructure continue. The Scottish Government recently announced a £40m package to help create the new Fastlink bus route between the city centre and the SECC exhibition facility which will run on dedicated lanes through the  Broomielaw area.

So we see how an area once associated with the commercial success of the city is once again becoming an area which is at the heart of the City's thriving business community and in the future, will provide a much improved leisure offering for workers, residents and visitors.

Web Links (opens in a new window)
  • Central Quay phase 1 and 2
    • Architect's impression of the Marlebone development on the Broomielaw, by Thomson Architects
    • Keppie Design have generated a flexible design that creates a variety of letting options from a small floor plate option up to large 2000m2 plus floor plate suitable for corporates. The competition winning design also incorporated a hybrid podium deck allowing a large naturally ventilated car park solution to all building
    • Impression of Capella Development's Broomielaw Pavillions