After a year of hard work, the £1.7 million Falkirk THI Public Realm project is now in its final stages.
Workers from contractor Maclay Civil Engineering Ltd are currently adding the finishing touches to public realm improvements in Bank Street. Not included in the original project, these were requested by businesses during the engagement period of the project. Traders in the area had put up with so much during the public realm works, Falkirk Council decided to give something back. Jacqueline McArthur, the council’s economic development officer, said: “We are currently improving the carriageway and pavements. The work started on April 26 and will conclude in early June. “It has been carried out in phases to reduce disturbance to businesses and shoppers.”
In the last year, Cow Wynd, Newmarket Street, Vicar Street and Manor Street plus Tolbooth Street and a number of Falkirk’s historic Wynds have all been transformed, improving the streetscape for visitors and businesses alike. Taking a walk through the town centre, the work carried out as part of the public realm project is evident. It includes refurbished roads and pavements, speciality signage in Cow Wynd and new heritage plaques in 13 key town centre locations. For the businesses who have had to operate during the works, help has been provided by Falkirk Council with bespoke retail training by industry experts, one to one advice and support, free trade stands in the Howgate Shopping Centre to take advantage of the increased footfall and incentivised car parking schemes for customers.
Jacqueline added: “The council is very grateful for the patience and support from the businesses, residents and shoppers in the town during the improvements. “We have worked hard to communicate and work with all the affected parties to reduce, where we could, disturbance.
“We hope that this project, along with all the other great work that is going on in the town, helps make Falkirk a destination for business, tourism, shopping and living.” Falkirk Council is still offering free business support to businesses. Call Jacqueline on 01324 590973 or email jacquie.mcarthur@ falkirk.gov.uk.
Two local men have also benefited from the works. Former Graeme High School pupli Devon McKay and Robert McCabe have been working with Maclays since the start of the work and jobs await them afterwards when the company relocates back to their Airdrie depot. Devon said: “Its been great working on the project. I’ve learned a lot.”
And Robert added: “I was between jobs so getting a full time job in my home town was great for me.” The main aim of the £5.5 million Falkirk Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) was to restore prominent derelict buildings in the core of the town’s conservation area to restore community pride and economic confidence for the future.
An exhibition charting the work which has been done as part of the wider THI project in Falkirk in the last five years is due to open in the Howgate on July 16. It will include the history of the buildings and details about the areas which have been improved. The exhibition will run for two months, from 10am to 4pm daily.
The main areas of hard landscaping improvement works are now largely complete. Thanks to funding from Falkirk Environmental Trust the two large historic statutes that are located on Newmarket Street are also being refurbished and this work is now also nearing completion.
Public Realm September Update
Very few traditional town centres in Scotland have the privilege of £5.5million being lavished on them in the space of five years.
But thanks to the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), that is exactly what is happening in Falkirk … right now.
As is the case with any project, though, there’s no gain without a little pain. For shoppers, businesses and visitors alike, the good news is the latest THI project – a £1.7 million public realm improvement package – is powering along. Bluebell Close, Baxters Wynd and Wilsons Close have all recently been restored to their former glory, as has the town’s iconic Steeple. Extensive work on the cobbled walkway in Wooer Street has also been completed.
Businesses in Cow Wynd and Mission Lane are reaping the rewards too, with resurfaced roads and footpaths now complete and new heritage lighting soon to be installed. Sheena Hinks, of Tolbooth Miniatures on Mission Lane, said: “We were the first shop to be affected by the improvement works – it’s safe to say we were very pleased when the workmen moved on! “But the streets look amazing and, on behalf of all the shops in this area, we welcome all our customers – both new and old – to come and pay us a visit. They won’t be disappointed.” It’s an ideal time to rediscover the hidden gems in Cow Wynd and Mission Lane, while taking a closer look at the improvement work.
The contractor, MacLay Civil Engineering Ltd, is now busy in Manor Street. Work there will be completed mid-November in preparation for the Christmas period. However, the road closure will still be in place as work continues in Vicar Street and Kirk Wynd. Jacqueline McArthur, Falkirk Council’s economic development officer, said: “Falkirk is competing with lots of other towns for business. “So we’re trying to create a town centre people want to visit, work and live in.” The overall aim of the THI – which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland – is to breathe new life into Falkirk’s historic town centre by improving its physical appearance and enhancing the things that make it special. And that’s what the public realm project is all about. Jacqueline added: “There’s still a way to go but much has been achieved and Falkirk has a lot to shout about. “What we want now is for local people to reconnect with the town. We want them to take the time to rediscover their own town centre. “People need to know that Falkirk is open for business.” The public realm works are scheduled for completion in May 2018.
For further information please contact Jacqueline McArthur at Falkirk Council.