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Community leaders meet at town summit

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Leaders from the Peterhead community met last week to discuss the future of town centre regeneration.

The Town Summit follows the publication of findings from a survey done earlier this year about the state of the town.

At the meeting, held at the Scottish Maritime Academy, John Lord from Yellow Book discussed with Aberdeenshire councillors, community councillors and business leaders how the Town Centre Survey report can be put into action.

The survey reached out to 10,000 households in the town in an effort to make Peterhead a thriving area of innovation and culture.

It showed residents believe that, althouth the town centre is not a desirable area right now, a range of initiatives can regenerate the town.

Before the summit Mr Lord, whose Yellow Book strategy and consultancy firm are working with the Buchan Local Planning Group, said: “There is now a huge, fundamental question about what town centres are for.

“Everybody feels bad to see the town looking so sorry for itself.

“How do we take advantage of these fine buildings and history?

“If there was an easy answer, it would have been found years ago. There isn’t an easy answer.”

Mr Lord is also working on regenerating the Fraserburgh town centre, another area which has faced criticism in recent years.

“The geography of people’s lives has changed and no longer matches the town centres we have.

“The onus is on us to make town centres like Peterhead and Fraserburgh desirable places to be.

“Fraserburgh is maybe a better layout to adapt.

“Peterhead is more linear - if you move something from, say, Broad Street to Marischal Street you really empty one end of the town.

“There are models which work in a town like this though.

“It’s not all bad news, but at the moment there is not the right mix.”

Of the 2,004 residents who responded to the Town Centre Survey - conducted in April - 60 percent said they visited the town centre less than ever before.

Only five percent said they visit more, and overwhelmingly this was due to a change in circumstance.

A popular idea was to bring in a better range of shops and cull the number of charity shops.

In particular there were big calls for a Peterhead branch of Marks and Spencer - when asked which shops they would like in the town, 56 percent of people named the clothing and luxury food store.

Other popular choices were clothing outlets Primark and Next.

The next step for the working group is to draw up an action plan which can be presented to the town for public consultation.

Yellow Book is working with HRI Architects, who are leading the project, as well as Night Wright Planning and Rydens.

 

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