A proposal has been agreed to begin to transform town centres, supported by a budget of £32.75 million over the next five years, as part of a long-term economic regeneration delivery plan for the area.
Transforming towns is high on the agenda of the council’s regeneration plans, which centre around the four core interconnected themes of: housing regeneration, town centre transformation, business and industry, and infrastructure development.
This includes plans to more than double affordable housing by pledging to deliver 5000 homes by 2035, all part of the council’s ambitious plans to invest potentially £4.5 billion over the next 30 years, aimed at creating an additional 15,000 jobs.
People living in these new homes will also contribute to the wider local economy with projections estimating a further 1000 jobs in the service industry.
At the heart of the entire programme, is the ambition to deliver inclusive growth.
Currently underway is the first stage of the regeneration blueprint, which will see many tower blocks and other flats demolished to make way for new homes.
Although this £500 million project is just one element of the council’s vision, these new homes will meet the needs and aspirations of local people, and many will be located in town centres.
Tenants in the flats earmarked for the first phase of demolition support the plan, with a recent survey showing that over 80 per cent were in favour.
New locations, including vacant and derelict retail sites, will be identified to speed up the construction of new council homes.
The council will also work with businesses and investors to redevelop existing retail space, to help create multi-use spaces, such as incubator hubs for business start-ups, that are more relevant to our future economy.
Work will continue to progress the reinvigoration of North Lanarkshire’s town centres, including coming up with creative ways to generate a regular evening economy and diversify outdoor, retail and industrial spaces.
Councillor Allan Graham, convener of the Enterprise and Housing Committee, which agreed to the proposal this month, said: “Town centres are key to the well-being of our communities, and the council’s ambition is to see them redesigned as multi-use spaces for everyone.
“We want to breathe life back into town centres, making them fit with current lifestyles. The way we all live has changed in recent years, with a huge increase in on-line shopping and use of digital services.
“Our social lives are also focussed around ‘experiences’ so we need to provide facilities and amenities for people, alongside the new housing in town centres. This will also create jobs, support business and grow the local economy – these may seem dramatic changes, but these are ambitious plans that will develop long-term sustainability.
“By locating modern housing beside community and leisure facilities, shops and services, all connected to ultrafast broadband, we will create town centres that people want to live, work and socialise in.”
The £32.75million allocated to town centre and business regeneration in the current capital programme will help kick-start the work over the first five years, while the council continues to develop long-term plans for the next 20 years.
Over the last ten years, the council has invested £30 million in town centre action plans which have seen improvements to the streetscape generally.
Specific projects such as the redevelopment around Motherwell train station, the Kilsyth and Kelvin Valley Action Plan and the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme in Coatbridge, will be continuing as part of the new plans.
Councillor Graham added: “The regeneration of town centres is an important part of our economic regeneration strategy which addresses both place and economy, so it’s about improving our land, buildings and housing as well as encouraging new business, investment and jobs.
“Our strategy will ensure we have land available for building much-needed new homes, utilise the Glasgow City Region City Deal investment to improve the transport network, create locations to attract business and industry, and maximise our greenspace for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Airdrie, Coatbridge and Cumbernauld will see the first phase of the plans.
In Airdrie, Coatbridge and Wishaw, the plans focus on replacing outdated, large-scale retail outlets, commercial property and housing with modern, mixed-use developments.
In Cumbernauld, the viability of the town centre will be a focus, using both public and private property to develop integrated public services.
Improvements in Motherwell will centre initially around the plans to create a transport hub at the rail station.
Future phases will focus on Shotts, Kilsyth and Bellshill.
Attracting further investment from business and industry sectors is key to the regeneration strategy and will be underpinned by advances in the roads and rail transport network made through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.
Regeneration of existing industrial estates at Newhouse, Blairlinn and Braidhurst will provide premises and development land suitable for modern businesses, with further sites earmarked for future expansion.