Scotland's Economy

Plan to revitalise town centres launched

November 7, 2013 by 1 Comment | Category Economy

Our town centres should be vibrant, attractive and safe places where local people and visitors alike want to spend their time and money.

They should be accessible places which invite business start-up and inspire innovative ideas from all walks of the community.

This is why we welcomed the independent National Review of Town Centres, led by renowned Scottish architect Malcolm Fraser, when it was published in July this year and the crucial role it will play in the regeneration of high streets across Scotland.

The review details key recommendations for re-energising our town centres. We have taken these recommendations on board and today I unveiled our cross government response – the Town Centre Action Plan.

We recognise that many of the solutions in the original report are not for the Scottish Government to undertake directly. For this reason our Action Plan will provide an added stimulus to encourage and support action across the wider public, private and community sectors.

We will be working closely with COSLA and organisations from across these sectors to help address the issues faced by our town centres.

The relationship between economic development and regeneration is co-dependent and successful regeneration cannot be delivered without investing in development, growing our local economies and delivering sustainable employment.

We will continue to work with local authorities and support local economic development activity in order to encourage town centre growth.

To achieve this we have developed a number of actions which work towards revitalising the towns in which we live.

This includes expanding the ‘Fresh Start’ business rates relief to apply to pubs, hotels and restaurants from 1 April 2014 and to increase the thresholds of the scheme from property with a rateable value of £45,000 to £65,000.

We are also committing £2 million towards a Town Centre Housing Fund to help bring empty town centre properties back into use and giving local authorities in the powers to establish Town Centre Investment Zones.

As well as this we have set aside £120,000 for Town Centre charettes – grants available to help deliver community design meetings specifically focused on town centres and will launch  a competition for entrepreneurs to drive forward town centre regeneration ideas.

To make this announcement I visited Bank Street in Kilmarnock, which, as of October this year, was 100 per cent occupied heralding a resurgence in local business. We want to see more of this across the country.

The Action Plan marks a new era for Scotland’s town centres and we will continue to work in partnership with local authorities, private and community organisations to ensure they are vibrant places to live, work and socialise.

To view the Action Plan visit –



  • The main issue that appears to be at the forefront of the need for the revitalising of town centres is the number of vacant shop fronts, which not only cause an eyesore if left unoccupied but also discourage shoppers, both local and tourists, from entering the high street, but rather push them out to larger retail parks.

    By the sounds of this article, though the government are offering help for pubs, bars and restaurants (and Town Centre Housing Fund sounds more like additional hostel and multiple occupancy housing), this isn’t going to revitalise the town centre atmosphere and tradition of shopping and community.

    Surely in order to rejuvenate the vibrancy and atmosphere of Scotland’s town centres we should be primarily encouraging retailers and independent production, rather than services, which would continue to make the town centres less accessible and more insular?

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