North Lanarkshire Council has unveiled a blueprint for transforming and modernising eight towns, including Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, through redesign and major investment over a ten-year period.
The local authority has published the document A Vision for Cumbernauld on its website. This forms parts of its wider The Place The Vision programme which plans to invest billions in significantly improving North Lanarkshire by 2030.
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.
Local residents are set to be involved and engaged in a plan to redefine Cumbernauld as a ‘21st century new town’ built around low-carbon living over the next decade. This will include citizens having 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 structure.
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.
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 planning discussions.
The next key step for The Place The Vision programme is the production of detailed Action Plans for all towns in North Lanarkshire by early 2022. It is anticipated that Cumbernauld town centre’s development will take place across three separate phases between 2020 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. Speaking about The Place The Vision, Leader of North Lanarkshire Council Jim Logue commented:
“Before coronavirus, North Lanarkshire had one of the fastest growing economies in Scotland and a new independent report shows that we’re one of the best-placed councils to withstand the economic impact of coronavirus.
“Coronavirus has been hard for us all. It’s changed the way we all live, learn, work, invest and visit, but our ambitions haven’t been reduced at all.
“We will invest £3.5 billion over the next decade which, along with private sector inward investment, will create around 12,000 jobs and generate an additional £1 billion for the local economy.
“That’s important because more employment means less poverty and better health across North Lanarkshire.
“We already have one of the most ambitious council house-building programmes in the country, with 5,000 new homes to be built by 2035. Many of these homes will be built in town centres and, with other investment, this will help to make our towns vibrant, sustainable places.
“Our plans to build new schools will not only provide outstanding places to learn, but they’ll become Town Hubs, places that host health, council, police and voluntary sector services.
“There will be business space too, and culture and leisure facilities. These Hubs will be at the very heart of the community.
“And all these places will be connected by better active travel networks, meaning better access and massive investment in our country parks and open spaces. That means more renewable energy and reduced carbon emissions.
“These are exciting times for North Lanarkshire, but we can’t do all this alone. We need to work in collaboration with our residents who will play a crucial role in making the real decisions that affect them and their communities.
“Over the next few weeks and months we’ll provide people with more information on all of these developments.
“I’d encourage everyone to become involved in the process in order that they can fully appreciate the benefits our plans will bring to so many families across our area.”
Meanwhile, A Vision for Kilsyth has also been produced by North Lanarkshire Council, detailing a focus on shaping 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.
Earlier in the year, it was revealed that residents of Greater Cumbernauld are to be consulted in relation to the proposed construction of a new direct road that aims to improve transport links between Cumbernauld and the M8 motorway.
It is planned that East Airdrie Link Road will create a new single carriageway link with pedestrian and cycle ways from north of the M8 (A723 / Newhouse Interchange) to the A73, north of Stand. This is part of a £190 million programme to improve the current road network from the M74 to the M80.
Cornerstone House Centre will post latest information updates regarding the plans to redevelop Cumbernauld and Kilsyth town centres via its website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) over the coming period.