£2.5 million construction boost for Campbeltown town centre

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Published Date: 

19 Dec 2014 - 16:00

Final two Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative projects moving forward

Town Hall on site, with the main construction set to start on the vacant tenement at Cross Street/Main Street in the New Year

People in Campbeltown are set to benefit from another two major construction projects in their town centre, funded through Argyll and Bute Council’s Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). The THI has committed the last of its funding to the town hall renovation (£387,000) and the repair of the vacant tenement at 50-52 Main Street/2 Cross Street (£390,000) , taking the total grant awards over the £1.4million mark.

With owners contributions and other funding taken into account, over £7million will have been spent on historic buildings in Campbeltown town centre since 2009.

Following an asset transfer from the council to the South Kintyre Development Trust (SKDT), work started on the town hall on the 1 December with £1.8million of building works, to be carried out primarily by local firm McKinven and Colville, will see a range of improvements to this key community facility.  

When completed the hall will become a community hub with offices to rent, conference and meeting facilities and a one-stop-shop for accessing services for local organisations and community activities.  The main hall will be available to hire for civic and community events such as weddings, ceilidhs, coffee mornings and exhibitions.

The vacant tenement at the corner of Cross Street and Main Street has been in a state of disrepair for over a decade, with a Dangerous Building Notice in force since 2010 there was a possibility that the building would have to be demolished to protect public safety.  The THI team has worked hard to enable a complex deal that will result in the category B listed tenement being fully repaired and brought back into use as 4 flats and 2 commercial units for private rent. Following a procurement process the ownership of the building has transferred from private ownership to Lochgilphead-based firm MacLeod Construction Ltd, and will be improved with the aid of £390,000 from the council’s THI budget.

Initial propping and downtakings work started in November, with the main construction work set to begin early in the New Year. A specialist scaffold will be erected on both the Cross Street and Main Street elevations, which will protect the historic facade of the building while work is ongoing.

An added benefit of the project is the repair and reinstatement of the store and cellar of the prominent Macgochans Bar.  Although the bar is located at the corner of Main Street and Longrow South the cellar is within 2 Cross Street. The partial collapse of this section has prevented the business from trading.  The new owners of the bar, Hawthorn Leisure Ltd., are involved in the THI led project and have indicated a willingness to bring the bar back into use.

Construction work on both buildings is expected to take around 12 months.  This will lead to some disruption for users of the town centre, although the project teams will be working to keep that to a minimum.  Cross Street will be closed to vehicles from Monday 5th January, with pedestrian access to Burnside Square and Union Street being maintained as far as possible by way of a covered walkway.   Local businesses have been consulted throughout the process.

There may be an odd occasion when the street will be completely closed, during periods of unavoidable risk to public safety.  If the street does have to be closed at any point the contractor will inform those affected at the earliest opportunity.

On Main Street the scaffold will occupy the parking spaces on the road in front of the building, with pedestrian movement also provided under a covered walkway. The taxi rank, which was previously outside the town hall, has moved to the bottom of Main Street.

The council would like to thank the people of Campbeltown for their continued cooperation with the town centre regeneration initiative and assure them that the contractors on these two projects will be aiming to keep disruption to a minimum.

Chair of the Mid-Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands Area Committee, Campbeltown-based Councillor Rory Colville, said of the projects: ‘’These are exciting projects and should see these two historic buildings restored to their former glory. It has taken some time to get everything in place – the funding packages, the asset transfers, the developers – but it’s great to see them going on-site.

‘’The THI has been a huge success for the people of South Kintyre, with over 40 buildings repaired, local businesses thriving, flats repaired and rented out, more than 40 local contractors used, historic buildings brought back into use and a community backpacker hostel opened.   These final 2 grants have resulted in a further £2.5million of construction contracts being awarded to local firms, creating new jobs and safeguarding existing ones.

 ‘’We also have a second Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) bid in to Historic Scotland for additional funding to carry out urgent repairs to key tenements in the town centre. If this funding is secured, it will safeguard the future of shops, homes and over 40 jobs. A decision is expected in early January.

‘’Please keep an eye out for updates on the council website and in your local paper, or drop into the council’s office at Harvey’s Lane if you need any further information.’’