“Leave our lane alane”

By Claudie Qumsieh

Holyrood is considering a proposed residential development which, opposition say, will destroy a unique community.  Recently around 300 protesters  marched through Glasgow’s West End to send a message to Glasgow City Council: “Leave our Lane Alane“.

Independent retailers in Otago Lane include a clock repair shop, record shop, second-hand book shop and tea house. Time, music, books and tea are all at stake. The plans, if authorised could see entry to the businesses blocked putting them at risk of closure. It will also transport 300 new residents into the lane. The eclectic appeal of the area was reflected in the diverse supporters present; children, parents, pensioners and students. A community coming together against plans they say will destroy the unique character of Otago Lane.

There is cross-party political support from Labour, Green Party and Liberal Democrats.  Labour MSP Pauline McNeil said “There is no justification for 164 flats in this tiny little lane. This is a lane. Leave our lane alane! We will be watching the decision-making of Glasgow City Council very closely. It doesn’t seem to me to be in tune with the City Plan, that there should be a 9 story building built in this lane.”

According to MSP Sandra White, Glasgow City Council have questioned whether Otago Lane is in fact a lane. “Glasgow City Council says we don’t think it’s a lane because it’s off a street, but the sign says Otago Lane and that’s where they are wanting to build […] They are using semantics and think they are being clever, but the people are not putting up with it.” The City Plan prevents over-development by stating no more than 2 storeys can be built on a lane.

Glasgow City Council Planning Officer, Andy Dale, said they are no closer to making a decision. Material considerations, including the 4000 strong petition and the 15000 letters of objection, will be reviewed.

Tommy Gore, President of Glasgow University Students Representatives Council, said “Otago lane is a fantastic resource. A lot of students really benefit from having T’chai Ovna tea shop and Voltaire and Rousseau books. It would be a real shame to lose that. What people are forgetting is this is something really special. It’s something we should keep. It’s a post-industrial city, there’s a lot of empty space lying around. I don’t see why people feel the need to develop something as well-used and as lovely as Otago lane”

One local resident said “If [Glasgow City Council] sell off this piece of West End culture, they might have a bit more money, but they won’t have Glasgow”.