7 Scottish towns and cities win £6.2m heritage revival

The faded historic heart of Aberdeen is to get a £2m upgrade as part of a programme that will revive the heritage of seven towns and cities across Scotland.

Aberdeen's Union Street has declined over the years with a number of empty shopfronts and damaged buildings blighting the main thoroughfare. Picture Ian Rutherford/TSPL.

Key buildings in Union Street will be repaired, preserved and brought back to life after a £1.18m of funding from Historic Environment Scotland was matched by Aberdeen City Council.

The Aberdeen announcement comes as a part of a wider package of £6.2m from HES, with towns including Penicuik, Maybole and Dunoon among those to benefit.

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Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare is widely thought to have declined over the years, largely in the face of opposition from the city’s shopping centres and changing shopping habits.

The money will support a Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme to revive and restore vacant and underused historic buildings.

Councillor Barney Crocket, vice-chairman of Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, said: “Union Street is close to the hearts of all Aberdonians and central to the work of the City Heritage Trust.

“This initiative is a powerful step forward in preserving and developing our wonderful granite inheritance.”

A number of buildings on Union Street buildings lie empty and unused, especially the upper floors, and have deteriorated as a result.

The money will be used for the restoration of roofs and frontages as well as the reinstatement of architectural features.

The programme of repairs will be carried out over five years with grants awarded to building owners, who would be expected to make a contribution to the works.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said the funding would help breathe new life into the city centre, encourage further investment, create new employment opportunities, and boost the tourism industry.

He said: “We’ve seen how successful this approach can be in previous schemes across the UK, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results for the historic city of Aberdeen.

“Preserving the built heritage of our town centres is a hugely important part of this, because investment in our historic environment is key to supporting improved quality of life for many people across Scotland.

“We are committed to supporting Aberdeen City Council throughout the regeneration process – not just through financial aid, but by providing expert advice and skills.

In Rothesay, Argyll and Bute, £500,000 will be spent on reviving a strip of dilapidated buildings on the seafront to help return this popular island destination to its prime.

In Penicuik, Midlothian, £725,127 will be used to restore the historic fabric of the town centre which has depleted as new housing developments on the outskirts of the town move the focus away from its traditional heart.

Cockenzie in East Lothian will also benefit from the funding with £600,290 to be invested in the harbour and the High Street.

There are also plans to transform Jedburgh in the Borders into the Historic Gateway to Scotland with a £866,550 investment into attractions such as Jedburgh Abbey and a proposed new distillery.

In Maybole, Ayrshire, £1.2m will be spent on improving the town centre and keeping it an attractive place for visitors. It is anticipated that a new bypass for the town, built to tackle the issue of heavy traffic, could harm trade and shopper numbers

Dunoon, in Argyll and Bute, will receive just over £1m to improve the appeal of the town and will be follow on from conservation work at Queens Hall and the Burgh Halls.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), announced the awards in Falkirk, an earlier beneficiary of the conservation programme.

Mr Paterson said: “In Scotland’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology we’re celebrating all the different elements which make up our rich and diverse historic environment.

“Preserving the built heritage of our town centres is a hugely important part of this, because investment in our historic environment is key to supporting improved quality of life for many people across Scotland, and it has been great to see this in action today in Falkirk.

“The council’s aim has been to create a high quality urban environment where people will want to spend their time and money, and the progress they’ve made to date is fantastic.”

This is the seventh round of CARS funding, with £42.2 million invested by HES (and formerly Historic Scotland) on behalf of the Scottish Government since the first grants were awarded in 2007.