Glasgow’s ABC venue has a ‘real and ongoing risk to public safety’

Glasgow‘s ABC music venu is a “real and ongoing” threat to public safety following last year’s fire at Glasgow School of Art, the developers behind a project to rebuild it have claimed.

Urban Pulse said they remain committed to creating a “world-class” music venue at the site of the O2 ABC on Sauchiehall Street but have expressed frustration at delays on progression to the project more than a year after the devastating blaze.

The delay is thought to centre on a dispute over the facade of the C-listed building and whether it is possible to retain the structure for future development.

The owners of the building say engineers have stated it is not feasible to retain the “extensively damaged and fragile facade” while a council source said it “absolutely can” be saved, adding the cordon would not have been removed after the fire if the building was unsafe.

The former cinema was left a charred shell after the fire at the School of Art on June 15 last year, the second in four years.  A report, commissioned by the developers Urban Pulse details the, “Dangerous and damaged structure directly over pedestrians on Sauchiehall Street,” and adds: “The facade is facing directly onto Sauchiehall Street and the present shoring arrangements are taking support of an already fire damaged, overloaded and weakened floor structure.

“The owners feel that this is a real and on-going threat to the general public due to the potential for catastrophic failure of interconnected structural elements which could lead to a complete loss of stability at this location.

“The owners sincerely feel that the continuing failure to recognise and resolve these patent threats to public safety is a continuing calculated risk with the health and safety of the general public.”

READ MORE: Historic Environment Scotland calls for Glasgow’s O2 ABC building to be saved

The report goes on to describe the risk to the public from asbestos in the building and other toxic materials. The building is also said to be heavily infested with rats and flies due to the decaying food supplies on-site, presenting, “a threat to human health.”

The owners say the facade has suffered such extensive fire damage, “that it puts it beyond any reasonable expectation that it could be re-used or relied upon to provide any future integrity.

The council say updated submissions have been received with regard to the demolition application which are “now under consideration.”

James Paterson, from developers Urban Pulse, said: “We very swiftly had a demolition application in and we had a number of professionals engaged immediately with the view to reinstating the property ASAP.

“Everyone wanted it back up and running. Since then we have issued a series of detailed reports from a range of engineers on our side who have all committed to the fact that the facade could not be retained.


“We have pushed very hard to get a meaningful response from the city council as to their view as to how it could be retained.

“At present, we have put on record with Glasgow City Council that we have serious concerns about the structural stability of the site and the environmental impact.

“There is clearly a log-jam as to how decisions are resolved but we are now actively engaging with the community. They are smart enough to know that there’s going to be demolition and construction, cordons and simply put, we would like to engage with them in a bit more detail.

“Of course we are a property development company and we want to move forward but the owners right now, their primary concern is the impact that this could have environmentally, structurally and reputationally.”

READ MORE: Loss of the ABC a critical one for Glasgow and Scotland’s live music scene 

Mr Paterson said O2 are keen to continue their involvement in the venue but added: “They have been very clear that we need to provide them with a timescale.”

A council spokesman said: “The application to demolish is a live, current application, and since it was received in February 2019 there have been numerous exchanges of correspondence along with discussions and meetings.

“Updated submissions related to the application have recently been received, and these are now under consideration.”

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