Mauchline’s Centre Stane was packed last week as owners and tenants of buildings in Mauchline’s Conservation Area gathered with others to find out more about East Ayrshire’s latest Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS).
The capacity audience, comprising all ages from primary school upwards, was treated to a light buffet, demonstrations of traditional skills and a comprehensive series of talks and presentations from Councillors, Council Officers and staff from Historic Environment Scotland who are part funding the exciting restoration scheme. Mauchline CARS aims to update, restore and conserve the town’s historic heart for future generations to enjoy.
Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes are a Scottish Government programme, aimed at boosting economic regeneration by restoring and preserving historic buildings in conservation areas where such works would be uneconomic when balanced against the final value of the buildings themselves.
Funded through a competitive bidding process, each funding round sees a selection of towns and cities throughout Scotland receive funding through Historic Environment Scotland to carry out works essential to the fabric of buildings. Councillor Jim Roberts, Cabinet Member for Skills and Economy, East Ayrshire Council explains: “For a town to gain CARS funding, our regeneration team must prove that the community are willing to take an active role in the scheme and support the identified projects in a way that will encourage them to use and enjoy the historic environment while increasing economic activity.
“In other words, it’s no good just having some old buildings in a state of disrepair which we’ll do up. It has to be a community effort, for community benefit, and we were well able to prove our case to win funding for Mauchline, thanks to the efforts of Mauchline Community Action Group, Mauchline Community Association, Mauchline Burns Club, the newly formed Mauchline CARS Steering Group and numerous other individuals whose enthusiasm and support have got us to this point.
“Of course there’s also no point in commencing a project such as this if it’s not going to have long term benefits. So that’s why we were delighted to welcome trainees from the
Prince’s Foundation Traditional Craft and Skills Centre at Dumfries House to the launch event. They showed us some of the many skills which will be required to restore the buildings using appropriate and long lasting materials and which must be used in order to meet the stringent Historic Environment Scotland stipulations.
“With every CARS project we do, and this is now our fifth, following two in Kilmarnock, and one each in Cumnock and Galston, we’ve run training workshops for schools, apprentices and skilled craftsmen, upskilling them to be able to carry out tasks such as stone masonry, lime mortaring, traditional slating and leadwork. Many young people have now taken up new careers in these sought after disciplines, and with so many historic buildings in the area, they’ll have plenty of work to last them a lifetime!.”
Following the presentations, including a national overview of CARS projects throughout Scotland presented by Amy Eastwood of Historic Environment Scotland and a charming musical interlude provided by Mauchline PS chanter group, a lively question and answer session followed.
The project, which can give grants towards the cost of eligible works, will prioritise 6 historically important buildings in Mauchline for major works. It will also cover several public access areas to improve visual amenity, safety and usage in a programme of Public Realm works.
Shop owners too, can benefit from a scheme of smaller grants to restore shop fronts to styles and materials more in keeping with the age of the buildings, while subject to available funding, private householders will also be able to apply for funding for older properties in order carry out traditional repairs to roofs, windows, doors, stonework and rainwater goods.
In addition a programme of skills, art and literature workshops and events will be used to encourage appreciation of the town’s heritage, with an emphasis on building an attractive tourism offer for visitors based on the area’s links with Burns, the covenanters, Melrose Abbey and Kays of Scotland, the world renowned manufacturer of curling stones.
For more information and updates on Mauchline’s CARS programme visit http://www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/mauchlinecars
To receive regular email updates on the progress of Mauchline CARS visit our StayConnected page and tick Mauchline CARS.