Local citizens, businesses and community groups are being asked during March and April to communicate their views on North Lanarkshire Council’s plans to significantly redesign Cumbernauld and Kilsyth town centres by 2030.
Cornerstone House Centre reported in August 2020 that the local authority had unveiled a framework for transforming and modernising eight towns through major investment over a ten-year period.
Now, a six-week consultation exercise has been launched providing residents with an opportunity to obtain further information on the plans through visiting interactive virtual rooms, as well as a chance to express their views through completion of online surveys.
This include online engagement events for Kilsyth citizens on Monday 8 March 2021 at 6.30pm and Cumbernauld citizens on Tuesday 9 March 2021 at 6.30pm to discuss potential locations for new town hubs.
The consultation seeks to gauge public opinion on A Vision for Cumbernauld and A Vision for Kilsyth, which were published last year as part of the Council’s wider The Place The Vision programme which plans to invest £3.5billion in radically improving North Lanarkshire.
The ambitious proposal recognises that the old retail-centric model for town centres is no longer sustainable due to the growth of out-of-town and online shopping, and highlights a desire to ‘re-imagine’ town centres by developing a new niche for them.
In this respect, the public is being involved and engaged in a blueprint to redefine Cumbernauld as a ‘21st century new town’ built around low-carbon living over the next decade. An online survey enables local people to have their say on a proposed new, smaller town centre incorporating a mixture of learning, health, shopping and leisure facilities.
Specifically, plans are afoot for The Centre Cumbernauld (to the west of Central Way) and Fleming House (to the east) to be replaced with a new Town Square and Civic Event Space. Antonine Shopping Centre (with a new north frontage), Asda and Tesco Extra will remain as part of the new layout.
Refurbishment of New College Lanarkshire’s Cumbernauld Campus, Central Health Centre and Cumbernauld Bus Station are expected as part of the initiative, along with the building of modern school and community campuses where Our Lady’s High School and St Maurice’s High School are currently situated.
Furthermore, the wider layout of Cumbernauld town centre will look differently as a grid of streets, squares, spaces, connected paths and cycleways are developed. New town centre residential housing, car parking and greenspaces are also likely to contribute to the rejuvenation.
Indeed, Cumbernauld’s primary greenspace attraction, Palacerigg Country Park, has been earmarked for a makeover as part of the project. This follows on from a consultation last year in which local people highlighted improved facilities, a major outdoor play area, a new gateway at Glencryan, extended car parking and pathways, and promotion of voluntary and private sector opportunities as priorities for development of the 300-acre site.
Meanwhile, the consultation also provides residents with an opportunity to respond to plans to reshape Kilsyth as a destination town with regional and tourist appeal.
The most northerly town in Lanarkshire is set to benefit from a revitalised town centre, promotion of its rural and heritage sites, a new northern gateway and a modern Town Hub replacing the old Kilsyth Academy campus. Pamela Humphries, Head of Planning and Regeneration at North Lanarkshire Council, commented:
“The way people use town centres has changed over time as a result of developments like online shopping and out-of-town outlets, so we need to identify a new future for our traditional town centres.
“Our vision is to use town centres for a variety of purposes, not just shopping. With more people living within town centres, they become busier during the day and evening, so we plan to encourage the conversion of existing unused building into housing as well as building new homes.
“We want to improve the way public services are accessed and encourage more use of town centres for leisure. This will be done through town or community hubs, where education is delivered alongside other Council and community services. We also want to improve active travel links between communities to reduce the reliance on cars.
“Each vision is designed around the individual character, heritage and facilities of our existing town centres, so we want to hear the opinions of local people on their town vision and help us make North Lanarkshire the best place to live, learn, work, invest and visit.”
The feedback obtained from the consultation exercise will contribute towards production of detailed Action Plans for all towns in North Lanarkshire by early 2022. Thereafter, it is anticipated that Cumbernauld and Kilsyth town centre redevelopment will take place across three separate phases between 2022 and 2029.
Crucially, North Lanarkshire Council has announced that the project remains on course despite the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, acknowledging an independent report which outlines that it is one of the best-placed local authorities in Scotland to withstand and recover from any financial downturn.
Positively, The Place The Vision programme is expected to create around 12,000 jobs and generate an additional £1billion for the economy in North Lanarkshire.
The implications of the scheme for Cornerstone House Centre’s community-owned building are unclear at this early stage, although the organisation welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the consultation and planning discussions.
To this end, the charity is encouraging all those living and working in the Greater Cumbernauld area to participate in the consultation exercise through accessing the below key documents and links.
A VISION FOR CUMBERNAULD: FIND OUT MORE AND TAKE PART IN THE CONSULTATION
A VISION FOR KILSYTH: FIND OUT MORE AND TAKE PART IN THE CONSULTATION
An update on ‘A Vision for Cumbernauld’ is expected to be included in the next meeting of Cumbernauld Community Board, which will be streamed on North Lanarkshire Council’s YouTube Channel on Thursday 4 March 2021 at 6.30pm.