Cabinet approves proposals for community led-regeneration

Economic renewal, community wealth building and community led regeneration in East Ayrshire took another step forward as the Council’s Cabinet approved a suite of reports aimed at bringing together teams and resources to build on close connections with communities and a strong track record in attracting funding for regeneration projects.

For many years the Council has supported communities to help realise their ambitions. This can be seen in a number of ways including the development of Placemaking Plans, Community Led Action Plans, Community Asset Transfers and, more recently, the establishment of Community Larders.

During the pandemic, community-led regeneration has been very much to the fore and the Strategic Framework for Community-Led Regeneration, as approved by Cabinet today, will consolidate this activity enabling it to benefit from both local and national policies, while supporting our recovery from COVID-19.

The Framework identifies the priorities for local economic renewal for the next three to five years. These include the Ayrshire Growth Deal, Caring for Ayrshire Programme, new housing programmes, and making use of external funding to tackle vacant and derelict land and properties and necessary projects such as the demolition of Kilmarnock’s multi-storey car park.

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “Regeneration of our communities together with our Community Planning partners, has long been, and still is a key priority for us. This new Framework consolidates our commitment bringing together a talented, multi-disciplinary team with the right resources in place to give our communities the support they need to make positive changes.

“I’m also pleased to endorse the proposals presented to Cabinet today, setting out how we plan to utilise our allocation from the Scottish Government’s Place-Based Investment Fund to further benefit our communities.

“For  2021/22 financial year we’ve been allocated £1.3 million from this fund, with a further £3.5m expected over the next 5 years. This is great news for the people and business in East Ayrshire. It will allow us to focus on place-based ambitions such as community-led regeneration, 20 minute neighbourhoods and Community Wealth Building

“We’ve identified a number of potential community projects - across most of our towns and villages - which meet the criteria and timescales set out by the Scottish Government. These include the completion of The Corner development in Darvel; completion of the bouldering hall as part of the Above Adventure Climbing Centre development; the development of the site of the former Castle Hotel site in New Cumnock and a Community Led Shop Front Improvement Scheme, where the Council will work with community groups as the key decision-maker in awarding the grants.”

Applications for future Place Based Investment Fund grants will be launched in January 2022.

The Community-Led Regeneration Team was initially set up to to work until March 2022 to build on strong community links and support regeneration activity across East Ayrshire. Officers are involved in a range of initiatives that are having a positive impact on towns and villages, such as the delivery of Town Centre Regeneration Fund projects, the EA Gift Card, ShopAppy and ‘Love Local’ campaigns.

In recognition of their valuable contribution, the success of their current projects, their proven skills in identifying new projects, and the challenges which lie ahead in the next 5 years, members agreed to make these roles permanent.

Councillors also received a progress update on projects in receipt of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF).

  • The Ingram Enterprise Centre in Kilmarnock is now 80% occupied
  • Ochiltree Community Hub has reopened again following a temporary closure during lockdown, and is looking for new opportunities
  • Crossroads Community Hub, is currently trading well as a café, food hub and development kitchen
  • The Kilmarnock Academy Legacy Project, in partnership with Centrestage, is progressing well, with additional funding opportunities in progress.
  • The Above Adventure Climbing Centre project has been split into two phases to allow for essential roof repairs to be undertaken.
  • An application by Celebrate Kilmarnock for the development of a Creative Industries Campus in the ‘White Tile Building’ has reached stage two of the RCGF application process. A working group has been established with representation from Celebrate Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire Council to ensure a collaborative approach to repurposing the building. The Campus project will create 15 new jobs and support 22 existing jobs, create 10 new construction jobs and support another 19 existing construction jobs, create 5 new training places and an additional 4 construction training places as well as 5-10 new business enterprises.
  • The Kilmarnock Academy Legacy Project in partnership with Centrestage Communities Ltd (CCL) has secured three RCGF allocations in total, amounting to £2.75m.  As the largest Community Asset Transfer (CAT) in Scotland, it is succeeding in transforming the Council's relationship with local communities while providing fully accessible facilities suitable for all. The main building works are now complete with the first production of the newly formed Ayrshire Arts Academy due to open on 12 November 2021. Work is continuing on site to develop the campus further. 

Councillor Reid added: “The last 18 months have been difficult and progress has been hampered by the pandemic, but we’re beginning to see signs of hope and renewal and fresh shoots of new growth. There’s a lot going on in our communities and we’re hugely grateful for the funding opportunities which are available to help us recover and regenerate.

“By restructuring our regeneration teams we’re bringing together experienced, multi-disciplinary teams who have the funding and skills available to make a real difference to the future of our people, businesses and buildings.”

“At the heart of all of this we’ll have our net zero ambitions, embedding eco-friendly practices and materials and building circular economies and community wealth producing opportunities in everything we do to provide a more positive future for East Ayrshire as a whole.”

Links to Cabinet reports

Strategic Framework for Economic Renewal and Community-led Regeneration

Place-based Investment Fund (including full list of projects being awarded funding)

Regeneration Capital Grant Fund