Permission has been granted for a former Rangers pub in Glasgow to be knocked down to make way for LGBT-friendly short-stay apartments.
The former Annie Millers pub will be razed to the ground by the owners of ‘Scotland’s best and largest gay sauna club’, despite neighbours sending notes of dispute to city council planning chiefs, urging them to reject the bid.
However, Belfast-based Big Top Productions, ran by Andre Graham and Seamus Sweeney, have been given the go ahead to demolish the pub which closed to Rangers fans in 2017.
Residents at Carrick Quay apartments, near the building have raised concerns about the noise from the new short-stay development on Ropework Lane, and claim many owners could be forced to sell or move.
Neighbours said The Pipeworks sauna club, on nearby Metropole Lane — also owned by Graham and Sweeney — had caused “nothing but noise problems”.
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Owner Andre Graham said reports of anti-social behaviour coming from The Pipeworks were “incorrect”, according to a Glasgow Live report.
He added the 18 serviced apartments would be aimed at the LGBT community, but would be open to all, and run separately to the spa.
Glasgow councillors were split on whether to approve the plans, giving the casting vote to planning committee chairman Bailie Glenn Elder, who ruled in favour of the application.
One neighbour had told the committee: “We’ve already had people in Carrick Quay saying if this gets the go-ahead they’re going to have to move, because their children are not going to get to sleep at night.”
There were 16 letters of objection to the application and Steven Martin, secretary for Carrick Quay Owners Association, said the new apartments would only make current issues worse.
“I’ve lived next to The Pipeworks building for over a decade and we’ve had nothing but noise problems. Almost every weekend during the night we get woken up by customers entering and leaving.
“There are constant arguments from the customers outside the building.
“A rooftop terrace and balconies will only attract more outside drinking and smoking, meaning more misery for the families that live around the premises.”
Struan Kerr-Liddell, who also lives nearby, said: “The proposed development comes within inches of our flat, and one of our windows will be directly blocked by this development. We will have a very high degree of noise imposed on us.”
And Scott Thornton, representing Merchant City and Trongate Community Council, and also a Carrick Quay resident, said the planned rooftop terrace was a “serious over-development”.
“We would be very happy to see Annie Millers demolished and a suitable low-rise building in its place. We have no problems with the demolition of Annie Millers, it has long been a blight on the local area.
“However, we contend that this is most definitely not the answer.”
Mr Graham said there had been a “number of complaints made by Carrick Quay regarding anti-social behaviour from The Pipeworks, which we strongly object to”.
He added CCTV had shown “the anti-social behaviour was coming from other elements into Metropole Lane”.
“Nothing came from The Pipeworks whatsoever, and this is an incorrect statement to make.”
The developer, who set up The Pipeworks with his husband Seamus Sweeney, said: “We had recently seen a number of serviced aparthotels aimed at the LGBT community and looked at the viability of such a business in Glasgow and concluded that we should purchase the building to develop a similar business.
“The studio apartments are the most important development within the LGBT community in Glasgow for over 30 years.
“Most cities of Glasgow’s size offer such accommodation, which is safe and welcoming to our community. Currently Glasgow offers no such accommodation.”
He added the apartments, although aimed at the LGBT community, will “not be exclusive and will welcome guests from all groups”. They will also be run “entirely separate from the business of The Pipeworks”
Mr Graham said the roof terrace would only be open during daylight hours and a 24 hour concierge would deal with any “rowdy” behaviour if it occurred.
The couple sold Belfast’s best known gay nightclub, The Kremlin in 2014, for around £3million after opening it in 1999.
Stephen Mallon, from Mosaic Architecture and Design, the applicant’s agent, added the distance between Carrick Quay and the apartments would be “far better than the minimum requirement”.
He said “reasonable amendments” had been made to address privacy issues.
“We feel that we have carried out a design which is respectful of the local area.”