Peterhead’s 7-year regeneration programme provides firm foundations for future development work

A report celebrating the completion of a seven-year regeneration strategy for Peterhead has been warmly welcomed by local councillors.
Multi-million pound investments are being made in Peterhead through a wide range of projectsMulti-million pound investments are being made in Peterhead through a wide range of projects
Multi-million pound investments are being made in Peterhead through a wide range of projects

Aberdeenshire Council’s Buchan Area Committee was given an overview of the ‘Peterhead Vision & Action Plan’ which aimed to gather partners and stakeholders around a programme of initiatives to improve many aspects of living and working in the town.

Its focus was around three key themes: Peterhead – Open to the World; Integrating Communities – Celebrating Peterhead’s Differences; and Connecting, Reinforcing and Rediscovering Peterhead’s Town Centre.

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Councillors were told it was a particularly exciting time for Peterhead with multi-million pound investments being made in the coastal town through a wide range of projects, the likes of which the north-east has never seen before including a host of infrastructure projects progressing succh as the new state-of-the-art community campus and a dynamic new Museum of Aberdeenshire and Peterhead Library.

Peterhead is also to benefit from an additional £20m of funding over 10 years from the UK Government’s Long-Term Plan for Towns programme which will focus on locally-identified priorities. A Town Board will be established comprising councillors, community leaders, cultural and sporting organisations, public sector agencies and local businesses to develop a long-term plan for the town.

Regeneration team manager Christine Webster told councillors: “In many regards this is the first chapter of positive change in Peterhead as we look ahead to the development of the cultural quarter, to the confluence of multiple national energy projects and to the most recent £20m award from the UK Government for its Long Term Plan for Towns initiative.

“This report celebrates the work of everyone – from community members through to some of our large private companies, our smaller companies and, of course, elected members who have led on the Vision and Action Plan throughout this time.

“Publication of the report doesn’t mean that work stops – quite the reverse – the foundations which have been created will continue to drive development – the improved town centre facilities, the green space at Victoria Park, the marketing collateral and the Peterhead cultural project will all continue to evolve.

“Our ongoing priorities including pro-active procurement is generating a lot of local interest and is gaining traction in Peterhead and developing that community wealth-building which form an integral part of our new Place Strategy which is being developed for the whole of Aberdeenshire. We have significant build work from Aberdeenshire Council such as the new Peterhead Community Campus but also other construction and engineering projects which will provide excellent opportunities for local jobs and businesses.”

Councillors were reminded of some of the key achievements during this period of regeneration which included:

Arc Cinema: Developers of the Arc Cinema were assisted through the council’s Property Investment Fund to conduct a feasibility and subsequently a decision was taken to confirm that investment with support of £200,000 from the Property Investment Fund. Arc has continued to be an anchor development for the town centre.

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Victoria Park: This area was largely unused and in an abandoned state prior to the dynamic forces of Peterhead Area Community Trust (PACT) and their actions to bring the space back to the community. The venture started in 2019 with the initiation of the Barclay Park Pavillion, supported by the Vision and Action Plan. Following wide community consultation and very successful bids, Victoria Park is now an attractive and functional area for use by all the community and will continue to deliver benefits and improve outcomes in Peterhead.

Invest in Peterhead: At the outset of the plan, there was a vacancy rate of circa 8.4 percent within the town centre and a collaborative partnership agreement was formed, led by Rediscover Peterhead business improvement district with estate agents, property owners and Aberdeenshire Council to embark on building the positive profile of the town. A prospectus was produced, proactive marketing schedules and a marketing campaign was successful in attracting 16 new businesses opening during the time of the campaign resulting in a reduced vacancy rate of 6.5% in 2021.

Most recently, the regeneration funding has supported engagement with the community around plans for the new Museum of Aberdeenshire and Peterhead Library. This joint project is being supported with significant funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The Peterhead project will see the listed Arbuthnot House at the lower end of Broad Street sensitively restored and extended to house both the town’s library and a new regional museum showcasing Aberdeenshire’s extensive heritage collections and artwork. The existing Carnegie Building on the town’s St Peter Street will be restored and refurbished.

The regeneration programme has also supported numerous activities and projects including development of Drummer’s Corner in the town centre, the popular Peterhead Town Trail, a 3-year gull control initiative, a Your Voice Your Choice participatory budgeting process and a variety of events including the Peterhead Seafood Festival and Light Up Peterhead.

A new online hub has been created to enable the Peterhead and surrounding communities to engage on the forthcoming developments and to keep up-to-date with regular updates on the projects.

Buchan Area Committee chair Cllr Dianne Beagrie said: “The success of our regeneration programme is a testament to the resilience and determination of our community. Together, we have proven that positive change is not only possible but achievable through shared vision and concerted action.

“Peterhead is a pioneering town which supports an entrepreneurial culture. We have supported and welcomed the Arc Cinema to invest an anchor facility in our town centre. We have laid the foundation for significant investment from the Levelling Up programme through seeds sown during the investigations into a heritage-led approach.

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“We have already begun work on Peterhead 2040, bringing together the partners that will be delivering change over the next decade. Moving forward, we consider the role each of us can play in shaping the ongoing narrative of our community's regeneration. Fostering greater pride in our built environment, seeing millions of pounds of investment in our Cultural Quarter and very much looking forward to our amazing educational facilities in Peterhead Community Campus. We are entering a new phase of development which will see new economic interest in Peterhead and we look forward to working with new partners too, to ensure a positive legacy for our community.

“I cannot remember a more exciting time for Peterhead with such massive investment on so many projects which will not only significantly improve our educational estate, but also enhance our cultural offering and public spaces.”

Vice-chair Cllr Matthew James added: “I welcome the good work undertaken throughout the duration of the Peterhead Vision and Action Plan. While work of the plan spanned the pandemic it is encouraging to see the efforts of the team has resulted in a variety of successes across many projects.

“I look forward to the cumulation of the plan’s work continuing following the successful bid to the Levelling Up Fund and delivery of the Peterhead Cultural Quarter. I, like other members of the Buchan Area Committee, sit on the Peterhead Development Partnership where it has been encouraging to hear from a variety of community partners and businesses enthused by the potential on Peterhead’s horizon, be it the new Peterhead Community Campus or the developments with the renewables and the Acorn project.

“This is manifested through the work on the Peterhead 2040 plan which sets out the aspiration of the town going forward. The recent announcement by UK Government of £20million of funding through the Long Term Plan for Towns gives Peterhead further opportunities to build on the good work undertaken to-date and I look forward to continued work over the coming years.”

A Vision for Peterhead 2040

Aberdeenshire Council is committed to the Place Principle and development of a Place Strategy and as part of progressing a place-based approach and support being able to live well locally, Peterhead is an early focus for the council and partners.

Developing a vision for Peterhead began in 2021 with a research phase gathering relevant information such as previous community engagement information. Aberdeenshire Council is now engaging with other stakeholders, including communities, to develop a long-term collaborative approach.

It is expected that Peterhead 2040 will include some of the Local Living goals such as increasing opportunities for active travel and improving local access to facilities. Ultimately, however, the aim of Peterhead 2040 is to align all policy, investment and service delivery - not just planning and land use - around Peterhead as a place, so that all action on poverty, inequality, learning, health and climate change is coordinated for maximum positive impact in Peterhead and for its communities.

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Alongside the transformational priority projects already underway, Aberdeenshire Council and partners continue to pursue opportunities to invest in the traditional properties that form the unique townscape of Peterhead.