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'Milestones' reached in regeneration of town centres

Words: Laura Edgar

A report has highlighted progress on the regeneration of Scottish town centres.

The Town Centre Action Plan – One Year On report reveals the range of milestones that have been reached in the year since the action plan was launched.

Publication of the report earlier this week coincided with the government announcement that it will provide almost £300,000 in funding to support two initiatives aimed at town centre regeneration.

One programme will see town centres receive a share of £119,000 over two years to fund pilot schemes under the proactive planning scheme, while the second will see £116,000 go to the Scottish Business in the Community to set up business hubs in Angus, Ayrshire, Borders and Moray.

Milestones reached under The Town Centre Action Plan include:

1. An agreement between the Scottish Cabinet and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to put the health of town centres at the heart of decision-making.

2. The number of business properties benefiting from an extension to the Small Business Scheme is at a record high.

3. An increased number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are helping to support economic growth in town centres.

4. The role of town centre is now recognised in the new National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy.

5. £2.75 million worth of funding has been awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 units of affordable housing.

Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning, has welcomed The Town Centre Action Plan – One Year On report. “The Scottish Government is determined that our town centres should be vibrant, attractive and safe places where local people and visitors alike want to spend their time and money.

“This goes beyond simply considering how to attract businesses and support local economies, but ensuring that we diversify town centres to support their place at the core of community life, offering spaces to meet and interact with access to facilities and services that people require.”

Mackay explained that the action plan is a response to the government vision of town centres and what they should be, with the report highlighting what it has achieved so far. “The progress that we have made in the past year is testament to the commitment of all concerned in revitalising our town centres, and as part of this commitment, I am delighted to announce close to £300,000 in funding towards projects aimed at achieving this aim.”

Chair of the Town Centre Review External Advisory Group, Malcolm Fraser, said it was good to see that the Scottish Government understands that the regeneration of the country’s towns is an ongoing process.