Campbeltown shortlisted for Scotland’s most improved place award

Some of the most recent restoration works have seen the transformation of McLean Place on Main Street.
Some of the most recent restoration works have seen the transformation of McLean Place on Main Street.

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Following an extensive regeneration programme, Campbeltown is in with a chance of being named Scotland’s most improved place after being shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The town is up against Fernbrae Meadows in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, and New Cumnock, East Ayrshire, in its category at the 2020 SURF Awards, which are delivered each year by SURF, Scotland’s Independent Regeneration Network, and the Scottish Government in recognition of best practice in community regeneration.

The appearance and vibrancy of Campbeltown’s town centre has been significantly improved with investment of £13 million to repair more than 40 buildings, improve shopfronts and deliver parallel projects.

The programme has been delivered by Argyll and Bute Council, which has taken a partnership approach, engaging with the community at all stages, and a number of key partners including Campbeltown Community Council; Campbeltown Community Business; South Kintyre Development Trust; Kintyre Amenity Trust; Inspiralba; Keeping It Local; local businesses; and tenement owners’ associations.

The restoration works include: improved community facilities including the renovated cinema and town hall; restoration of Campbeltown Cross in partnership with Campbeltown Community Council; a shopfront improvement scheme leading to a number of new businesses opening; Quarry Green sculpture project due to start this month; more than 2,000 square metres of vacant or derelict floorspace brought back into use; the full repair of 11 tenement buildings containing 58 flats and 26 commercial units, helping bring many vacant units back into use; and the transformation of a derelict building into a community backpackers’ hostel.

Partnership working with Housing Services has also seen £3 million of grants awarded to more than 70 private owners for repairs to multi-ownership tenements.

Councillor Alastair Redman, policy lead for economic growth, said: ‘This is fantastic news for Campbeltown. The council and partners have worked together to secure funding which has enabled key buildings to be repaired and vacant properties to be brought back into use.

‘This successful programme of works is already delivering huge benefits safeguarding homes, jobs and businesses and attracting new people and business to the area, so vital to the economic recovery of Argyll and Bute. It has been a fantastic example of partnership working to deliver huge community benefit.’

South Kintyre’s councillors have also welcomed the news.

Councillor Donald Kelly said: ‘This award is the culmination of more than 14 years’ hard work and dedication by many people, businesses and organisations who have been ably led in many cases by James Lafferty. It is a tremendous achievement, one of which the entire community should be immensely proud.

‘However, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels – there is much work still to be done and, as local councillors, we must continue to make the case for funding to ensure that we build on the good work already done.’

Councillor John Armour said: ‘I am absolutely delighted and not in any way surprised that Campbeltown has been shortlisted for this award, which rightly recognises the hard work of James Lafferty and his team, Campbeltown Community Council and the many individuals and organisations involved.

‘Their determination and dedication to improve the look of our town is well known and appreciated locally but to be recognised nationally is a tremendous achievement and all concerned deserve to be congratulated for all their hard work.’

Councillor Rory Colville said: ‘I believe it would be wrong to single out any one individual or organisation as to why we are one of three towns to have been shortlisted. Our success at reaching this stage is down to the shopkeepers and local people and organisations that have worked tirelessly to create the sense of place that the town has achieved.’

Judging will take place on October 27.