Mauchline set for multi-million pound facelift

Mauchline’s most precious historic buildings are set for a dramatic transformation thanks to over £1.8m of grant funding from Historic Environment Scotland and East Ayrshire Council.

The town is the latest in the area to benefit from Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) cash after East Ayrshire’s regeneration team, supported by the Mauchline CARS Steering Group, were successful with their bid for this year’s round of funding aimed at conserving and regenerating Scotland’s ancient and historic town centre properties.

The CARS project will run for five years from May this year, with an expected completion date of the end of March 2024. It aims to promote economic activity within the Mauchline Conservation Area by providing significant funding for repair and restoration of key buildings; small grants for building repairs; shopfront improvements and replacement of upvc windows and gutters with traditional materials; training and educational and community based projects including artworks and a possible archaeological dig.

With owners of eligible buildings able to apply for grants towards the cost of repairs, the community based projects will be supported by Mauchline Community Action Group who have established a Mauchline CARS Steering Group to promote regeneration within the town. With approximately 20 members, the group will meet monthly and liaise with members of East Ayrshire Council’s Planning and Economic Development Team, including a specially appointed Mauchline CARS Officer and a Modern Apprentice who will work solely on the project for its duration.

East Ayrshire Council’s regeneration team has a strong track record with CARS projects, having successfully won bids for funding for the regeneration of town centres in Kilmarnock, Cumnock and Galston in recent years. In every case, it has been bringing older buildings back into productive use, and helping building owners carry out vital long lasting, sympathetic but otherwise uneconomic repairs, boosting the local economy.

Councillor Jim Roberts, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure said: “What many people don’t realise is that regeneration is about more than bricks and mortar – it’s all about people and opportunity too. With the projects we’ve already completed in other towns in East Ayrshire we’ve seen huge and far reaching benefits to the community, business and the local economy.

“We’re blessed in East Ayrshire to have so many fine and historically important buildings, but naturally, as they age, they require upgrading and replacement of worn out features. To do these repairs effectively requires highly skilled tradesmen and the use of expensive traditional materials, and this often puts such work beyond the means of the owner and the eventual worth of the finished building. Owners struggle to find the money and wherewithal to do these repairs and sadly much of our precious built heritage slips into disrepair.

“By supplying grant assistance and ensuring the use of appropriate methods and materials, we can bring buildings up to date, giving them a new life and freeing the owners from the headache of constant running repairs and deterioration.

“At the same time we provide work and training for local skilled craftsmen, many of whom have now taken on apprentices with our help, so they can pass these vital skills on to the next generation. The funding also allows us to provide educational resources to local schools, teaching young people about their local heritage and encouraging them to consider how they can best preserve their future environment.

“And in Mauchline in particular, we’ll have a strong emphasis on maximising links with Burns, since he spent arguably the most productive years of his life here. We’ll have an artist in residence helping the community create lasting artworks and build a narrative to help promote the town to tourists. We also have the Holy Fair in May which will bring thousands of visitors to Mauchline.

“It’s all about securing the future of our heritage, making life a little easier for building owners, maximising the use of the buildings themselves and improving the appeal of the town to benefit locals and visitors alike.”