This week marks Scotland towns week #STW15 – a celebration of Scottish towns centres and the people who work hard to protect them. And this month marks the second anniversary of the Town Centre Action Plan, the plan the Scottish Government published following the yearlong national review of town centres that concluded in 2013. This is welcome opportunity to come together to raise the profile of our towns and places, to share best practice and opportunities and ultimately to bring life, vitality and vibrancy back into our town centres.
Proactive Planning was a key theme of the Town Centre Action Plan. We recognise this to mean simple, encouraging and pro-active planning policy that supports vibrant town centres.
We have also been working with interested planning authorities on a programme of Town Centre Planning Pilots to test approaches which could help simplify planning processes in town centres. We have invested in 14 projects looking at innovative ideas to support town centres.
Today, (18th November) at Scotland’s Towns Conference in Falkirk Marco Biagi, Minister for Local Government & Community Empowerment, launched the first round of Town Centre Planning Pilots case studies and guides. These are available now on the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Towns Partnership website.
Special thanks to all the pilot authorities and HOPS for working with us and their ideas and commitment to creating and sustaining vibrant town centres across Scotland.
Creating more good quality homes in town centres, close to shops and facilities, is an excellent way of bringing life back into town centres. The recent Place Challenge event, hosted by Architecture and Design Scotland, considered the town centre living theme further. This event used the real life setting of Arbroath to explore the challenges of delivering housing in town centres. Participants worked together to consider how to create town centres as living places that re-use existing spaces to deliver housing and services in the right place, for the most impact.
The award winning Glengate Hall in Kirriemuir transformed an empty town centre building into 9 affordable homes for local people. The strong partnership working between Angus Council, a private developer, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together.
Finally, it is important to remember to celebrate the good things happening in town centres. Last week our Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning recognised and showcased planning success stories, including several town centre projects;
- Kelso Town Centre Regeneration – Award Winner
- Lockerbie High Street: Town Centre Regeneration – Award Winner
- Paisley Heritage Assets Strategy – Award Winner
- Partnership Working for the Regeneration and Re-use of Historic Buildings to Provide Quality Affordable Homes – Commendation
- The Foundry, Barrhead - Commendation
You can read more about these in the SAQP Awards booklet