COUNCIL SET TO ALLOCATE £750,000 FOR UPPER NITHSDALE REGENERATION PLAN
Written by author on January 11, 2016
A PLAN to boost Upper Nithsdale’s business and jobs sectors is set to get a cash boost of £750,000 for the first phase of aregeneration scheme
At the meeting of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee (EEI) on Tuesday, members of Dumfries and Galloway Council will be asked to agree to allocate an initial £750,000 towards the first phase of a new Upper Nithsdale Regeneration Plan.
The Council recognise that the communities of Upper Nithsdale face substantial challenges in seeking to capture new investment which can build a new economic identity for the area and strengthen the overall sense of place.
The area has been impacted specifically by the loss of economic activity brought by the decline in the mining industryand has been left with a series of challenges for the regeneration project to tackle, namely limited economic activity; rural transportation complications; and a legacy of limited civic townscape.
Dumfries and Galloway Council believe that the settlements of Upper Nithsdale have demonstrated remarkable resilience to the scale of changes and multiple challenges which have impacted upon the standing and wellbeing of communities across the whole of this region.
The proposed responses to these challenges were developed via the Charrette in the form of a range of projects which would address four core regeneration themes and form the Regeneration Plan for Upper Nithsdale. These themes are:
- Sustainable Economic Growth
- Urban Place Quality and Landscape
- Community Infrastructure
- Cultural and Civic Life
Under these headings a total of eighteen project ideas emerged through the Charrette which are considered to be particularly important by the Community. These projects will now comprise the focus of the five year Regeneration Plan 2016/17 to 2020/21.
At its meeting on 13th May 2014 the EEI Committee agreed a funding allocation of £750,000 for Upper Nithsdale Regeneration over two financial years, 2014-2017. Having completed the Upper Nithsdale Charrette, the following projects are now proposed as priorities for bringing forward: Upper Nithsdale Town Welcome; Upper Nithsdale Enterprise Centre (Kelloholm); Sanquhar Public Realm Project; and Kirkconnel Public Realm Project.
The selection of these projects as early priorities reflect the feedback which was received at the community meeting of Nithsdale Area Committee on 4th November 2015 that projects focussing on improving tourism; business; training and jobs; housing and high streets be the priorities. The two housing projects – in Queensberry Square, Sanquhar and (Sheltered) Housing in Kirkconnel/Kelloholm – will be considered once the Housing Need and Demand Assessment is updated by Dumfries and Galloway Council later this year.
Councillor Colin Smyth, chairman of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “For far too long Upper Nithsdale was forgotten when it came to major regeneration projects. That was changed by the current Council administration who added Upper Nithsdale to the Council list of four key regeneration areas. That decision has resulted in £3.3 m of projects being proposed that will would help create dozens of new job opportunities and bring millions of pounds into the local economy.
“To kick start the first phase, councillors will be giving the opportunity to agree £750,000 of council funding towards the initial priority projects including an Enterprise Centre in Kelloholm. Along with match funding we hope this will result in £1.2m being invested over the next year or so on these priority projects. Other projects such as new housing will also be considered as part of the forthcoming Housing Need and Demand Assessment being carried out this year.
We estimate that the total investment of £3.3m has the potential to attract further private sector investment to sites and properties, improving not only job availability, but also an overall increase in the economic performance of town centres.”