Communities Minister hails Main Street a success

The redevelopment of Kilwinning Main Street – already hailed a success by shop owners and local people – receives the Scottish Government stamp of approval today.

Scotland’s Housing and Communities Minister, Alex Neil MSP, returned to Kilwinning to officially open a project he had praised during an earlier visit in 2009.

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Since his last visit, in the summer of last year, the £2.75 million scheme Main Street regeneration scheme has been completed and 8 new retailers have been attracted to the street.

In addition, 12 training positions were created during the construction work to give local people valuable job training – with three of these becoming permanent full-time jobs.

Mr Neil said during his earlier visit that the project was “a first-rate example of regeneration companies taking a rounded and innovative approach to the work they do.”

The work has been carried out by Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, and Chief Executive Patrick Wiggins said:

“The Minister has taken a keen interest in the project from the start, has visited it in the past during the work, and it seemed entirely appropriate to have him back to carry out the official opening.

“We are delighted he was able to join us, and see for himself the successful outcome of our efforts.”

Minister for Housing and Communities Alex Neil said:

"Thriving main streets act as the cornerstone for communities across Scotland. That is why the Scottish Government has invested millions to help regenerate our towns.

"The Kilwinning project is a shining example of what can be achieved. The creative thinking behind this scheme has invigorated the town's main street by attracting new businesses.

"But regeneration is about more than just bricks and mortar. The development has delivered a number of training places and full time jobs, which is good news for the Ayrshire economy"

Because the project work has been delivered within the budget the company has been able to fund several additional pieces of work, including young people from Kilwinning Academy creating decorative tiles for one of the vennels leading from the car park to the Main Street, with direction from a local artist.

The main contractor for the project was Land Engineering Group, working with landscape architects Austin-Smith:Lord , cost consultants Neilson Partnership, and Clerk of Works John Arnott.

The refurbished Main Street means the town centre is now the ideal place for events such as the first Kilwinning Farmers’ Market on 23rd October. This could become a regular feature for the town, attracting more shoppers into the town centre on a Saturday.

Since work began, 8 new retailers have been attracted to the Main Street.

Pauline Cassidy, of Goody 2 Shoes, said: “We are very committed to Kilwinning. We could see the transformation taking place and knew this was going to be a great location for us. We are delighted with the growth and already we are in the top 6 of Lelly Kelly stockists in Scotland. The bright colours inside and out – and the range of prices – seems to be doing the business.”

Shona Thorne, of Thorne Travel, added: “The Main Street is now much more family-friendly and ideal for older people too. Word is spreading that there is a growing number of shops in the town and people are coming down to see what’s here. Our customers are pleasantly surprised that a face-to-face service can work out cheaper than the internet and they appreciate the local staff who respond to their special requests. We’ve been able to source bus tours with local pick up points using local suppliers – a business area which I hadn’t planned but which has really taken off. Kilwinning is a growing town with new homes being built all the time – it makes sense to be here!”