The much-delayed plan to breathe new life into Denny town centre has been a source of frustration for many residents in the burgh.
But it’s also inspired one architecture student - with no ties to the area - to come up with his own vision of how Denny could look in the future.
Pavel Kulagin, from St Petersburg, Russia, was reading a magazine during a flight last year when he came across an article on ‘My Future’s In Falkirk’, the council-backed publicity campaign which aims to attract new investment to the district.
It inspired him to find out more about the area, and it was then he discovered the on-going project to regenerate Denny.
Looking for a suitable design project as part of his Masters degree course at the University of Huddersfield, Pavel set to work designing his own vision of how the town centre could look, once the demolition of Church Walk is completed.
The spectacular results can now be reproduced here.
“Last November, I went to see a few people who work in Falkirk Council,” said Pavel (26). “They provided me with additional information about Denny.
“The next day I visited the town. To be honest, I was shocked by the condition of the town centre. I spent a day there, walking, taking pictures and thinking what could be done to improve the town and give it brighter life.
“That same day, I decided I was definitely going to work on a proposal for the regeneration of Denny town centre.”
Although Pavel’s plans are unlikely to make it off the drawing board, they have been welcomed by councillors as a positive contribution to the debate on the town’s future.
Brian McCabe, an independent councillor who has campaigned for the regeneration of the town, said: “It’s really quite astonishing to have a young Russian architectural student able to articulate the desires and wishes of the community so well, when our own council are so inept at providing an acceptable solution for the town.
“I’ve spoken to a number of people who are surprised at the world wide interest in Denny town centre’s lack of regeneration, and here you have a young student with a confident and well thought out proposal to highlight that interest.
“I commend Pavel for taking the time to assimilate the needs of the town before drawing up his inspirational scheme. I only wish Falkirk Council had half his vision.”
John McNally, a Denny town centre business owner and SNP councillor, said Pavel’s vision was more “people friendly” than Falkirk Council’s plan.
“The images certainly allow for flexibility within the design - how deliverable they are is another question, but certainly worth pursuing.
“There is without doubt a clear need for further full consultation with the community regarding this most important development.
“We need to take the community concerns and comments on the new town centre development seriously before we lay a brick.”
Douglas Duff, Falkirk Council’s head of economic development, said the local authority had consulted extensively with the community regarding the first phase of the town’s regeneration.
Planning permission is already in place to build a two-storey building in the south end of Stirling Street, near Denny Cross, once Church Walk is demolished. This will include a new library and shops.
“We fully recognise the efforts that Mr Kulagin has made in giving his ideas for Denny,” said Mr Duff. “But we believe that we must not divert from our task of delivering a regenerated town centre as quickly as possible.
“We have agreed a design after extensive consultation, taking into account not just the opportunities, but also the practical constraints of the site.
“The first phase of new town centre will be a genuine asset to the town and will be the trigger to its regeneration.”