Galston Town Centre has been undergoing dramatic changes as part of a multimillion pound Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme(CARS), with many historic buildings undergoing radical renovations to return them to their former glory, using sympathetic materials and traditional methods to make them fit for purpose in the 21st century. As part of that scheme, funded in collaboration by East Ayrshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland and building owners, and working with Galston Community Development Trust, premises have been surveyed and extensive plans have been drawn up to revitalise the town.
During previous engineering surveys, the former Co-op building on Cross Street was identified as being at risk due to a deterioriation in the fabric of the reinforced concrete structure. Ongoing monitoring and remedial work identified further serious issues with the structure which resulted in the building being closed in February due to safety concerns. Work is now proceeding to demolish the building and clear the site.
For this demolition to be carried out safely, a short section of Cross Street, leading up to Bridge Street will need to be closed to both traffic and pedestrians for around 12 weeks from 18 September.
Explaining the works, Councillor Elena Whitham, Local Member and Depute Leader, East Ayrshire Council said: “Galston is undergoing massive change at the moment, with many of our important historic buildings finding a new lease of life thanks to our CARS funding and the work of Galston Community Development Trust. The deteriorating condition of the Co-op building meant demolition was required as a matter of urgency, and with the Co-op now completing the clearance of their store, this is now able to commence. This will make way for a new improved, and sympathetic redevelopment of the area.
“As with any demolition, safety of the public and workers is paramount, and after extensive consultations with structural engineers, ARA and the demolition contractors Reigart, the only safe way to carry out the works is to close the road for the duration of the demolition works.
“For local businesses this is naturally a concern, however we’d remind the public that Church Lane and the car park will still be accessible and all local traders will be very much still open for business.
“Going forward, the cleared site provides us with a great new opportunity. We’re currently drawing up exciting plans that could deliver new retail space and a paved and landscaped area linking the Church Lane car park with Cross Street. We’ll shortly be consulting with the public and embarking on the approval processes needed to get the new developments underway as soon as we can.
“At the same time we’re also taking the opportunity to completely upgrade and renovate the Council Offices including the former Burgh Chambers. The upstairs was previosuly inaccessible to people with mobility difficulties and has not been used for some time. We’re hoping to restore the beautiful period features there and bring it back into use as a library with lift access, while still offering a wide range of services from a reconfigured ground floor.
“We know it’s not going to be easy while the road closure is in place and are doing our best to minimise any inconvenience. Our local office has been relocated to the library and cash payments can be made at the PayPoint across the road, our staff can help with this. But we also know that in the long term, this demolition heralds the dawn of a new era for Galston. We’re losing an incongruous, unsafe building and in its place we’re gaining refurbished accessible Council offices, an attractive public space and a great new retail development to give the town centre a boost.”