In the first of a four-part series, we look at how a £1.7 million project to improve Falkirk town centre is progressing.
Very few traditional town centres in Scotland have the privilege of £5.5 million being lavished on them in the space of five years.
But thanks to the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), that is exactly what is happening in Falkirk ... right now.
As is the case with any project, though, there’s no gain without a little pain.
For shoppers, businesses and visitors alike, the good news is the latest THI project – a £1.7 million public realm improvement package – is powering along.
Bluebell Close, Baxters Wynd and Wilsons Close have all recently been restored to their former glory, as has the town’s iconic Steeple. Extensive work on the cobbled walkway in Wooer Street has also been completed.
Businesses in Cow Wynd and Mission Lane are reaping the rewards too, with resurfaced roads and footpaths now complete and new heritage lighting soon to be installed.
Sheena Hinks, of Tolbooth Miniatures on Mission Lane, said: “We were the first shop to be affected by the improvement works – it’s safe to say we were very pleased when the workmen moved on!
“But the streets look amazing and, on behalf of all the shops in this area, we welcome all our customers – both new and old – to come and pay us a visit. They won’t be disappointed.”
It’s an ideal time to rediscover the hidden gems in Cow Wynd and Mission Lane, while taking a closer look at the improvement work.
The contractor, MacLay Civil Engineering Ltd, is now busy in Manor Street.
Work there will be completed mid-November in preparation for the Christmas period. However, the road closure will still be in place as work continues in Vicar Street and Kirk Wynd.
Jacqueline McArthur, Falkirk Council’s economic development officer, said: “Falkirk is competing with lots of other towns for business.
“So we’re trying to create a town centre people want to visit, work and live in.”
The overall aim of the THI – which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland – is to breathe new life into Falkirk’s historic town centre by improving its physical appearance and enhancing the things that make it special.
And that’s what the public realm project is all about.
Jacqueline added: “There’s still a way to go but much has been achieved and Falkirk has a lot to shout about.
“What we want now is for local people to reconnect with the town. We want them to take the time to rediscover their own town centre.
“People need to know that Falkirk is open for business.”
The public realm works are scheduled for completion in May 2018.