The long-awaited regeneration of Denny town centre will take a step forward this month when a contractor arrives on site to begin building work.
Paisley-based Clark Contracts will oversee the building of a new two-storey building in Stirling Street, by Denny Cross, which will have space for 10 shops, a new library and a community meeting room.
Five Modern Apprentices will be employed by the firm as part of the deal.
Many of the retailers currently housed in temporary units in Duke Street are expected to move into the structure by September 2016, with additional works finished by July 2017.
The new building will stand on part of the site of Church Walk, a vast residential and commercial complex built in the early 1970s and demolished in stages over the last three years.
It had originally been commissioned by Denny and Dunipace Burgh Council as a response to a housing shortage in the area. Its construction involved the flattening of much of Duke Steet and the entire western length of Striling Street, which included a number of late Georgian and Victorian buildings.
Although the new flats initially proved popular, they were empty by the time Denny residents took to the streets in 2010 to demand the demolition of the buildings, after a previous redevelopment plan drawn up by the local authority in partnership with a private company fell through.
By then much of Church Walk had been vacated and boarded up, and the overall condition of the building had significantly deteriorated, although several businesses remained open in its ground floor until early last year.
Falkirk Council took sole charge of the regeneration scheme in 2011 after developers Henry Boot pulled out.
The new building forms ‘phase one’ of the regeneration, with the cleared site opposite St Alexander’s church part of ‘phase two’. This plot is being marketed for private retail development.
The local authority has attracted criticism in the past from local businesses and community councillors over the length of time involved in demolishing Church Walk, and the proposed designs for its replacement.
Council Dennis Goldie, spokesman for economic development, welcomed the news that building work will soon begin.
He said: “This announcement helps the whole community move forward in seeing the delivery of a transformed town centre for Denny.
“The work will be of a high standard and feature attractive buildings that will appeal to new and existing retailers.”
Clark Contracts director Michael Scanlan said: “We recognise the tremendous importance of this contract, which is the first phase of the major transformation of Denny town centre.
“We are committed to delivering the highest quality product on the ground, and we are very much looking forward to getting started.”