Kilmarnock is set to go head-to-head with Irvine for the title of Scotland’s ‘most improved large town’ after being shortlisted for a major award.

The two Ayrshire towns found out last week they were shortlisted in the category as part of Scotland’s Independent Regeneration Network.

And that could do wonders for both towns, with the winner benefiting from a variety of Scottish Government-led events, publications and online channels over the coming years.

The news the towns were shortlisted for the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF) awards was well received throughout the area, with many believing the “hard work” of many to improve the town is now starting to bear fruit.

Leader of East Ayrshire Council Councillor Douglas Reid told us: “I am delighted that the improvements and regeneration of Kilmarnock have gained national recognition.

“After many years of hard work, the Victorian streetscape has been restored. We have a thriving independent retail sector and new town centre jobs have been created by both private and public sector organisations.

“And we have excellent restaurants and coffee shops, high quality entertainment and a diverse and dynamic cultural offering - just some of the successes of our regeneration programme.”

SURF awards recognise and reward community regeneration, using the work carried out in successful towns as best practice across other communities in Scotland

The awards are widely recognised as the “most prestigious” in the field of Scottish community regeneration, and aim to identify, celebrate and share the positive impacts of participative planning and regeneration processes in urban settlements of all sizes across Scotland.

The two Ayrshire towns will now be rated by an independent panel of 22 judges, who will look at demonstrations of effective community engagement and participation.

Judges will also look for examples of improved economic opportunities and engagement with the private sector; how the town benefits people living in the town; and the use of proactive planning and the ‘town centre first’ principle; as well as improvement in the town’s image, identity and ‘pride of place’.

Of the news, councillor Eoghann MacColl Tweeted: “We have a strong record improving our largest town centre, state of the art energy efficient housing for all, a creative place with retail.”

And it was a view shared by the area’s MP, Alan Brown.

As the news broke, he took to social media to say: “This is fantastic news. We truly have seen significant improvements in our biggest town in the last few years.”

The six category winners will be announced by Cabinet secretary for social justice and communities, Alex Neil MSP, on December 10 at a glitzy event at Glasgow’s Radisson Hotel.

Willie Coffey MSP told the Standard: “I’m delighted Kilmarnock has been shortlisted for this. There have been considerable improvements made to the town over recent years when you look at the projects carried out at John Finnie Street, Bank Street, West George St, the railway viaduct, new housing within the town and improvements to our parks an open spaces.

“I hope this is all recognised by the judges and it would give everyone a great boost if we were successful.”

Councillor Reid said the council are continuing to “actively promote” town centre living with modern in Kilmarnock throuhg new housing developments.

And there are more improvements for the town on the horizon.

The Vineburgh Regeneration Initiative in neighbouring North Ayrshire will go head-to-head with initiatives in Dundee and Wester Ross for an award in the large-scale infrastructure category.

SOURCE: Daily Record

Sponsored By …Connecting Scotland's Towns