St Marnock Square - the temporary title which the working group are using until a permanent name is agreed - is being prepared for its next stage of development thanks to an input of up to £500k from the Economic Regeneration and Development Capital Fund.
This funding, together with £200k of Common Good Funding will be spent on the creation of an innovative landscaped open space for public use, right at the corner of Titchfield Street and St Marnock Street.
The site has become vacant with the demolition of the row of shops which for many years housed Mothercare. As part of a wider programme of community led regeneration, its future design is being determined by a process of local consultation headed up by Celebrate Kilmarnock working with the public, local businesses, third sector organisations and East Ayrshire Council.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building and Regeneration said: “This a major part of a much larger programme of regeneration planned for the town centre. We’re currently clearing and turfing the site while the consultation and design process continues. Using support from Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund.
“Working with our partners we were able to commission landscape design company ERZ Studio to draw up a choice of concept designs for the site which were narrowed down by a focus group led by Celebrate Kilmarnock.
The final design is available to view on our St.Marnock Square webpage. Securing this council funding will now allow us to bring this concept design to fruition and allow us to appoint a contractor to transform the site.
“At the moment contractors are still working to clear and tidy the site. The next step will be to erect some creative signage showing the designs and explaining what will happen with Kilmarnock’s newest green space in the years to come.”
Celebrate Kilmarnock’s Elaine Cowan said: “Celebrate Kilmarnock's aim is to ensure that local people are directly involved in owning, designing and shaping the future of our town. We hope everyone will agree that the transformation of this site offers an exciting opportunity to vastly improve the appearance of a gateway entrance to our town centre.
“We’ve already had overwhelmingly positive feedback on the demolition of the derelict shops, which range from the amount of light; new town vistas; and opening up new views of the river. So, it is hugely encouraging to hear that the Council has approved further funds to bring the community's ideas for this site to life and help transform this corner of town into something special.”
Peter Telfer, Chair of Kilmarnock Business Association agreed, saying: “It is fantastic to now see the former Mothercare site clear. It creates a real sense of the opportunity available for St Marnock Square. I would encourage all businesses in Kilmarnock to be part of the ongoing consultation process, not just in the short-term, but in the longer term as the site gets developed. Many avenues are being explored and it is exciting to consider what a valuable asset this site will become to the Town Centre in the future.”
Preparations are underway to build a new access road at the gable end of the site. Work on this new road will start once the demolition contractors, Caskie Demolition , finish their work at the end of July.
Elsewhere around the town, work is progressing on the “Academy Steps”, helping revitalise the link between Kilmarnock’s Cultural Quarter, centred around CentreStage’s former Kilmarnock Academy Building, the Dick Institute, and the town centre.
Car parking will also be created at the former Conservative Club site near the Palace Theatre. And further up King Street, Celebrate Kilmarnock are running a consultation on the “White Tile” building.
Councillor Reid explains: “Again, working in conjunction with Celebrate Kilmarnock and Kilmarnock Business Association we’re exploring a new use for a renovated White Tile building.
“Together with Celebrate Kilmarnock we’ve submitted a bid for grants from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. Celebrate Kilmarnock has formulated an ambitious plan to turn it into a thriving hub of creativity and enterprise, providing space for artists, artisans and budding entrepreneurs to run their businesses, hold meetings and events and exhibit their work in an inclusive welcoming atmosphere.”
Find out more about St Marnock Square, the White Tile Building and the Academy Steps on East Ayrshire Council’s Town Centre Regeneration webpages