Major investment to get Falkirk’s economy back on the right road

Falkirk must use its attractions to get the local economy booming again. Montage: Michael Gillen
Falkirk must use its attractions to get the local economy booming again. Montage: Michael Gillen

Falkirk is undergoing massive infrastructure investment that will help attract more visitors to the area and boost the local economy.

A series of multi-million pound projects are currently on the go and planned for the district through investment worth £53.3m that will change the face the landscape, leisure industry, jobs and travel.

The figure represents public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that is expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth in joint initiatives between VisitScotland, Falkirk Council, other national partners and private business.

Key local development projects involving Falkirk Council include improvements at Westfield Roundabout costing £16.5m; Townscape Heritage and Conservation Initiative (THI) – £5.5m; Grangemouth Flood Prevention scheme £4m; M9 road improvements/motorway signage £2.365m.

Private developments include £5m investment in the new Falkirk Distillery at Salmon Inn Brae, Polmont and a possible £2m for the popular Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, run by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society.

Confirmed public and private projects include: improvements to the Mariner Centre – £0.8m; a £1m extension to the Premier Inn North hotel; a £2.9m investment at Malcolm Allan Butchers; £100,000 for improvements at Grangemouth Swimming Pool; £1.5m for Falkirk Wheel regeneration; £5.5m for THI projects that will include improvements to Falkirk town centre; and £100,000 for the Helix car park extension.

‘Speculative’ funding is earmarked for the Westfield project, which includes a crossing over it costing an extra £3m; Gateway Phase 1 at Falkirk College, £3m; canal and tourism signage, £0.78m; the Grangemouth flood prevention and the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway investment.

Falkirk Council say its ten-year plan for economic growth has been successful so far and will help maintain a sustainable future.

A spokesperson said: “These private and public investment projects captured by VisitScotland are all part of the council’s recently launched Falkirk Economic Strategy 2015-25 – a ten-year plan for economic growth in the Falkirk Council area. The significant investment being made has resulted in an increase in tourism growth and visitor numbers to the Falkirk area and these projects will all contribute to sustaining growth going forward.”

VisitScotland regional partnerships director Liz Buchanan said: “The visitor economy in Falkirk causes a ripple effect that touches every industry, business and community in the region.

“Realising its growth potential to 2020 through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate. We are excited by the investment in Falkirk tourism and aim to ensure this close co-ordination of local authority planners and partners continues, creating real opportunities and benefits for many years to come.”

Tourism and positive impact plays a vital role for local communities

The updated National Tourism Development Framework – first published in 2013 – aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies.

The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy.

It is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities and identifies projects – due to start or be completed over the next three years – covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals.

The total amount of investment across Scotland up to 2019 is estimated to be over £16 billion.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries with its benefits and impacts reaching many other sectors of the Scottish economy.

“The Tourism Development Framework has identified £16 billion of major projects being delivered across Scotland that will have a positive impact for our visitors, ensuring they can be better connected and have the best possible experience while they’re here – with clear benefits for the visitor economy.

“I look forward to continuing to work with partners to ensure our tourism industry reaches its full potential and ambition.”‎

COSLA spokesperson for development, economy and sustainability, Councillor Stephen Hagan said: “Tourism and its positive impact on local economic development plays a vital role in improving outcomes for local communities.

See www.visitscotland.orgfor more information.