Where are Scotland's most improved neighbourhoods?

Irvine, Shawlands in Glasgow and Middlefield in Aberdeen are vying for a major urban regeneration prize, writes Alison Campsie

The restored Irvine Town House stands next to the newly opened Portal, which brings together heritage, culture and sport in the Ayrshire town centre. Picture: Andrew Lee

Two city neighbourhoods and a west coast town are in the running to be named Scotlands’ most improved place to live and work next month.

Shawlands in Glasgow, Middlefield in Aberdeen and Irvine in North Ayrshire have made the shortlist for the esteemed category in the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum awards.

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SURF has been touring the country to determine which has done the best job in revitalising physical spaces, economic opportunities and the communities who call the three places home.

Shawlands on Glasgow's Southside has made the shortlist for most improved place in Scotland following work to improve it as a shopping, eating and nightime destination. PIC: Contributed.

How each contender has improved its image, identity and pride of place will also be considered.

Convening judge Billy Love, regeneration investment manager at the Scottish Government, said the shortlisted candidates had been able to bring together people with better spaces.

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He said: “The three places which have been successful in being shortlisted for the award were best able to demonstrate collaboration amongst local partners to deliver not only physical revitalisation of their areas but crucially how their local communities have been engaged and actively participated in delivering activity that they themselves had identified as a priority.”

The Hub in Middlefield, Aberdeen, has been credited with having a positive impact on the community. PIC: Contributed.

In Aberdeen, the creation of The Hub at Middlefield has been central to the regeneration of the area where 29 per cent of residents have been recorded as materially deprived.

The Hub houses The Healthy Hoose nurse clinic, a community run cafe, adult and family learning programmes and youth services with volunteers from the neighbourhood helping to develop and run many of the services used by their friends, neighbours and family members.

Councillor Gordon Graham (Labour) said The Hub had been the “icing on the cake” of a vast regeneration programme that is also bringing new low-energy council homes to the neighbourhood.

“This has been about sitting down with people and working with them on services that they want.

Shawlands on Glasgow's Southside has made the shortlist for most improved place in Scotland following work to improve it as a shopping, eating and nightime destination. PIC: Contributed.

“The cafe has been a great success and it has given people an opportunity to volunteer and get training so they can apply for jobs. It’s been about improving people’s chances.

“Being on the shortlist is recognition for the hard work put in by the community. It hasn’t been easy. There has in the past been a lot of distrust in the community of the council. Some feel they have been let down in the past, promises haven’t been delivered but the community planning partnership has been determined to make sure The Hub happened.”

Playpark upgrades and five new ponds have also breathed new life into Middlefield, as has the creation of the Aberdeen Treasure Hub, the main store for the city’s collections of historical objects and artworks while not on public display.

Meanwhile,Irvine was last on the shortlist for the most improved place award in 2015 but it is hoped new £20 million Portal and Town House development - which brings together sport, culture and heritage in the town centre- will give it the edge.

The Hub in Middlefield, Aberdeen, has been credited with having a positive impact on the community. PIC: Contributed.

Other developments include Quarry Road which will bring a new floodlit 5-a-side- pitch, three new tennis courts, a cycle loop and a BMX pump track into the heart of the town.

Elma Murray, chief executive of North Ayrshire Council, said this year’s entry represented “our heritage, our future and our ambitions. Irvine is about people and place and the amazing way this comes together in this town.”

In Shawlands, work has been ongoing since 2012 to make the southside neighbourhood a key destination for shopping, eating, drinking and a night out.

The success of Shawlands ‘town centre’ has long faced increased competition form Silverburn and Braehead shopping centres as well as suburban rivals of Giffnock, Clarkston, Newton Mearns and East Kilbride.

Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm said a “great deal” had been achieved in recent years including the creation of Shawlands Cross conservation area.

The creation of a new public square at Langside Halls was set to increase the attractiveness of the area as a place to live and visit, he added.

The winner will be announced at the annual SURF awards in Glasgow on December 7.