South Lanarkshire’s councillors this week triggered an eight-week consultation on the regeneration of Hamilton town centre.
A report outlining a wave of measures to improve the area went before the Community and Enterprise Resources committee on Tuesday (March 6).
The Hamilton Town Centre Strategy and Action Plan and Town Centre Audits report features a range of ambitious proposals such as the reopening of Quarry Street to traffic, extending the streetscape area around Campbell Street and creating an “iconic gateway building” at the Hamilton Towers Site.
It also outlines plans to bring vacant ground back into use, and pledges to review the parking system within the town centre.
Other plans to improve events and marketing include trial initiatives such as a craft-maker emporium, teenage market and pop-up events.
The draft, put together by the council in conjunction with the Hamilton BID (Business Improvement District) and town centre partners, focuses on three key areas: Access and Enhanced Connectivity, Business Support, and Events, Marketing and Initiatives.
Councillors approved the report, leading to the launch of a two-month consultation period – including a public consultation event.
Members also agreed to commission the Scotland’s Town Partnership to produce similar town centre audits and action plans for Blantyre, Larkhall and Cambuslang, with Hamilton being seen as a “pilot project”.
Leader of South Lanarkshire Council, and Hamilton South Councillor, John Ross said: “The strategy and action plan for Hamilton is a bold and imaginative step to help improve the town centre.
“There are three main headings which are being considered – potential development opportunities, car parking, transportation and access, and events promotion and initiatives.
“Each of them offers significant opportunities and we really want to hear people’s views on the draft document which has been prepared.
“I am also delighted that this model for Hamilton will form the basis for other towns in South Lanarkshire moving forward.”
Here are the 24 points in the council’s plan and the anticipated timescale:
1. Town centre: Consult on the Strategy and Action Plan (3 months).
2. Townhead Street: Town Hotel and 37-41, Develop derelict properties which require investment and redevelopment (1-2 years).
3. Castle Street Units: Fit out shop units and provide dedicated business support (1 year).
4. Former Bairds unit: Alternative use to be explored, with the aim of redevelopment and long-term occupation of a “prominent gateway site” to the town centre (12-18 months).
5. 18-22 Quarry Street: Regenerate derelict area of land which is “unsightly and detracting” from the surrounding area (12-18 months).
6 . Streetscape Review: Carry out an audit to identify any local improvements in key spaces to enhance town centre function and appeal (1-2 years).
7. WiFi: Install free WiFi network to ensure provision for all town centre users (3 months).
8. Townhead Street: Bring disused area back into active use (1-2 years).
9. Campbell Street: Extend streetscape to provide an external seating area for local bars and restaurants to add to the “cafe culture” (1-2 years).
10. Gateway Site: Bring large-scale investment to key edge of centre site (3-5 years).
11 . Salvation Army: Bring disused building in an under performing area back into use (2-3 years).
12. Vogue: Bring disused property in an under performing area back into use. Consider options for development including residences (2-3 years).
13. Former Hamilton Advertiser building: Consider options for the potential development site (2-3 years).
14. Hamilton Towers: Improve area and reinforce links between the traditional town centre and Palace Grounds. Create “an iconic gateway building” (3-5 years).
15. Parking: Introduce alternative payment methods, open Quarry Street to allow access and short-term parking and improved signage/information (12-18 months).
16. Review town centre accessibility by car: Consider whether the current road layout and traffic management is suitable for the needs of the town centre and users (12-18 months).
17. Signage: Improve the information, directional and statutory signage in the town to make it as user-friendly as possible (TBC).
18. Reintroduction of traffic to Quarry Street: Reintroduce traffic in a controlled manner to Quarry Street to support businesses through improved accessibility (6-9 months).
19. Public transport: Review public transport to and around the town (Ongoing).
20. Healthy High Streets: Support the Healthy High Street programme, and encourage active travel, positive town centre environment and business trading (Ongoing).
21. Festive sponsorship: Explore alternative funding models and the potential for a sponsorship arrangement to deliver festive events (TBC).
22. Shape future vision through young people engagement: (12 months).
23. Manage third-party use of public spaces: Monitor the number and frequency of collectors, and prevent an overuse of the town centre by “inappropriate activity” (Ongoing).
24. Promote the town centre: Promote town centre at other key attractions such as the race course and Chatelherault to increase footfall (Ongoing).
Hamilton parliamentarians have welcomed the latest development in regenerating Hamilton’s town centre.
Angela Crawley MP and Christina McKelvie MSP previously consulted with residents to get their views on how the town centre could be improved. They produced a report and made recommendations on changes that should be introduced.
In a joint statement, they said: “In early 2016, the Hamilton Advertiser undertook a special investigation that found 45 business premises lying vacant. As representatives of the town, we thought that was unacceptable.
“However, a lot has changed since then. There’s been a rates revaluation by the Scottish Government which removed over £3.5 million in charges from local businesses and took 200 town centre businesses out of paying business rates.
“There’s also been a change in administration at South Lanarkshire Council, with the SNP standing on a platform during the election of town centre regeneration.
“Both of these factors have and will continue to be instrumental in changing Hamilton for the better.
“Within the proposed document, there are a number of initiatives that we included in our action plan – including opening up Quarry Street to traffic and investing in stalled spaces.
“It’s also welcome to see proposals to regenerate some of the existing buildings within the town and look at new ways to encourage people to visit Hamilton. This exercise put into action has the potential to be transformative .”Daily Record7th March 2018