Watkin Jones submits plans for The Àrd PBSA

Watkin Jones submits a planning application for The Àrd to deliver much-needed student homes at the former Portcullis House site.

Watkin Jones Group has submitted the plans for The Àrd PBSA scheme to Glasgow City Council | Hawkins Brown | PBSA News
Watkin Jones Group has submitted the plans for The Àrd PBSA scheme to Glasgow City Council. Image credit: Hawkins Brown.

Developer and manager of residential for rent Watkin Jones Group submits a planning application to Glasgow City Council for The Àrd – a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development.

The scheme is set to regenerate the brownfield site of Portcullis House at Charing Cross if planning is approved. Construction will consist of partially demolishing the existing former HMRC building on India Street and proposing the part-retention of the existing concrete frame.

The redevelopment of the site will form a significant part of an overall renewal of the west end of the city centre, acting as a catalyst for change and enhancing the vitality of this part of the city.

“This exciting development at The Àrd will regenerate a brownfield site bringing vitality to this part of the city, providing high-quality and much-needed student homes, in addition to greatly increased public realm.

“It will help to address a chronic undersupply of student accommodation, as well as repopulating the city centre and benefit local businesses as part of an overall renewal of the west end.

“We are delighted to welcome Glasgow Social Enterprise Network who will accommodate space in the building, should it be consented. This organisation will support the delivery of the next generation of entrepreneurs, also working with those students living in the building.”

Iain Smith, Planning Director, Watkin Jones Group

Designed by local architectural firm Hawkins Brown, the two buildings of 36-storeys and ten-storeys include 784 student beds. A sky lounge on the top floor of the taller building will provide a viewing deck for far reaching views of the surrounding cityscape. This space will be used for pre-booked institutional, civic and business type events.

The Àrd will also provide the charity, Glasgow Social Enterprise Network (GSEN), with a new home as it will occupy a ground floor unit free of charge. In addition, it will also be a double height flexible commercial space facing Charing Cross station, which is likely to be used for a café or workspace.

GSEN will use the space for a variety of purposes – including providing training opportunities for both social enterprises and students, alongside delivering a tech recycling programme that offers free to low-cost tech to students and social enterprises, serving to reduce tech waste.

“The provision of a new multi-function space for GSEN at The Àrd is a fantastic opportunity, as we continue to expand our operations. Working with the five universities in Glasgow, this is an ideally located home for us, providing excellent access to the city’s extensive student population. Providing opportunities for social enterprises and students, The Àrd will support the delivery of the next generation of entrepreneurs and social and environmental innovators.”

Jennifer Robertson, Director, Glasgow Social Enterprise Network

As the number of full-time students in the city’s five Higher Education Institutions (HEI) is anticipated to rise from over 75,000 full time students in 2021/22 to over 96,000 in 2026/27 as universities continue with their expansion plans, The Àrd development will help address the chronic undersupply of student accommodation in Glasgow.

On completion, it is estimated that residents of the scheme will spend an estimated £3.4m per annum in retail and leisure expenditure, the majority of which will be spent locally.

With public-accessible open spaces, The Àrd will include a variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous planting that will achieve biodiversity net gain against current levels on a site that currently has a low habitat value. Public realm works to be undertaken around the building will provide additional outdoor amenity and activation of the streetscape.

“It is fantastic to see this level of investment being proposed for Glasgow by a developer with an exceptional track record for investment in the city. The student age population in Glasgow is increasing, and the city’s three largest institutions are all targeting continued, significant growth in their latest strategic plans.

“Delivering high-quality student homes will address this increasing demand and will also serve to retain skilled young people in the city as well as regenerating the city centre, which is a key aspiration of the city council. The site has excellent transport links and local businesses will clearly benefit from these proposals. Innovative developments such as this are to be greatly welcomed.” 

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

Designed to the highest environmental standards, the development will incorporate the use of low and zero carbon technologies – such as heat pumps and low energy lighting. The scheme is also highly accessible by public transport and pedestrian/cycle routes, helping to fulfil Watkin Jones’ ESG and sustainability commitments.