It was once described as “Beirut on a bad day” and won the Carbunkle award for being the most dismal town in Scotland, but the transformation of Denny town centre is starting to take place.
The £7.8m regeneration project by Falkirk Council has been a long time in the making, with economic difficulties hampering the potential for progress and growth for many years in an area which needed it badly.
Robert Hamilton‘People like those who show belief in their town and they like to shop locally’
In fact, residents were so keen to highlight the issues the town faced they approached organisers of the Carbuncle award in 2010 otherwise known as the ‘Plook on the Plinth’ in the hope that it might speed up progress on development.
In April 2015, and after years of campaigning, work on transforming the look of the town centre got under way.
Clark Contracts won a £4.7m contract to deliver the first phase of work which should be completed this summer.
The demolition of the final piece of Church Walk – an outdated and dilapidated residential and commercial complex built in the early 1970s – was a powerful symbol of the town’s progress, juxtaposed with a brand new library, the centrepiece of the regeneration, which will officially open on Valentine’s Day.
Falkirk Community Trust and the council say the facility is “bright and welcoming” with free wifi, a community room with a view, flexible space, a small library for kids, gaming zone for teens and comfy chairs for reading 3000 brand new books.
Other developments in the area include improved car park for access to ten new shops: Lloyds Pharmacy, Cafe Anton and Boots have moved in with more to come in the coming months. There will also be a community-designed town square on the corner of Duke Street and Stirling Street.
Walk around the town centre now and there is a renewed sense of optimism and belief in the area, and the regeneration is encouraging other businesses to locate to the town.
Cloud 9 may not be part of the new development but the ice cream parlour opened its doors just across the road on January 21.
Owner Robert Hamilton (38) said: “When we moved here I did think about the regeneration and I definitely think it will be a good thing for the town.
“It will encourage other people to come and see what the town has to offer.
“I’ve already had people coming in from all over the place and asking me questions about the area, people are thinking ‘there must be something here’”.
Freshly baked Belgian waffles, lots of different ice creams and ‘waffle dog nutellas’ are just some of the delights on offer.
Robert added: “I just thought the town was maybe missing something. Hopefully this will give people a taste of something a bit different.
“People like those who show belief in their town and they like to shop locally. I know a lot of people and they are a happy bunch. They always have a smile on their face when they come through the door.”