The deal will see UK and Scottish Governments contribute £90 million towards 11 projects that it is hoped will bring green jobs and better transport to the area.
These include major projects to enhance tourism locally, such as a new canal centre being built in Camelon – including Scottish Canals’ headquarters – and a public art trail that will enhance the walk from the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel.
However, Falkirk Council’s contribution to the deal is the £45 million to build a new HQ and arts centre in Falkirk High Street, in the hope of regenerating the town centre.
As the heads of terms were signed, the project is still described as a crucial part of the Growth Deal, which has taken years of negotiations to put in place.
Just before adding his signature to the document, UK government minister Iain Stewart said: “The creation of an exciting new art centre will not only heighten the cultural offering for the local community, it will also aid tourism.”
However, since plans for the new facility were halted by opposition councillors in September, it is not clear exactly how that £45 million will now be spent.
In September, the Labour group – backed by the Conservatives – announced they wanted to build new stand-alone offices on the site of the old Westbank clinic.
And instead of building a new theatre and studios, they said that they intend to refurbish the town hall.
At a special meeting of Falkirk Council on Monday, the Labour group leader, Robert Bissett, welcomed the signing of the growth deal – but asked for reassurance it would not jeopardise his party’s plans.
He was told that the decision was not in jeopardy – but it did mean that the council would have to go back to the UK and Scottish governments to discuss £6 million that had been expected to support the project.
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “There’s a recognition by both UK and Scottish governments that people’s shopping habits have changed and there’s a real need to look at cultural regeneration for our town centres.
“That is reflected in the Growth Deal, where there is a contribution towards the provision of the arts centre.
“More critically, this reflects the £45 million of the council’s matched investment.
“How this will be delivered is still to be resolved and will need to be agreed with governments as these detailed business cases are worked up.”