Blue Toon ‘will be biggest and best!’

Chapel Street, Peterhead
Chapel Street, Peterhead

Peterhead will not only be the biggest town in Aberdeenshire, but the biggest and the best!

That is the claim of recently appointed Rediscover Peterhead BID project co-ordinator Iain Sutherland as he aims to regenerate and revitalise the heart of the Blue Toon.

Rediscover Peterhead is a business organisation with the ambition to improve the town centre economic development.

Speaking to the Buchanie this week, Mr Sutherland, who owns Something Special with Thorntons on the town’s Marischal Street, said that he believed a Business Improvement District (BID) would help th emanagement and regeneration of the town centre.

“All businesses and stakewholders in the BID area will benefit from extra services, and all will contribute to the cost of the projects, which will be controlled on a local level to make the BID area more vibrant and viable for doing business,” he said.

Over the next 12 months, Rediscover Peterhead BID will talk to a range of businesses and services providers in Peterhead to find out what they feel needs to be changed and improved within the town.

“Our aim is to develop a strategy and a working partnership that will create a better, safer and more attractive environment to shop and do business in,” said Mr Sutherland.

Rediscover Peterhead will develop the business plan based on the needs and concerns of those doing business within the BID area.

“The businesses within that area will have the opportunity to vote on whether they support the plan,” he said.

“A positive vote will usher a new business era into Peterhead town centre and create more jobs. With improvements clearly visible, we believe there will be greater civic pride and th eBID will be a catalyst for more investment and improvements, which will provide a legacy for future generations.

“Peterhead will not only be the biggest town in Aberdeenshire, but the biggest and the best,” he added.

The economic fortunes of the Blue Toon appear to have taken a turn for the better in recent months.

The opening of Peterhead Prison Museum in June has seen in excess of 42,000 visitors head to the town’s former jail, with many making the short journey into town to visit the shops.

Conrad Ritchie, managing director of Score Europe Limited, told the Buchanie: “Score Group is delighted with the general public’s response and support towards the Peterhead Prison Museum project.

“It was always our intention to preserve the history of this facility and focus on the men and women who ran this establishment for more than 130 years. The creation of the prison and the subsequent harbour of refuge was a critical foundation for Peterhead as it exists today it is therefore important that we do all we can to embrace that legacy and push forward in a positive and progressive manner.

“The positive economic impact via visitor footfall is a very welcome result of what has become a first class visitor attraction. We do hope the resulting increase in visitors will have a positive effect in the long-term regeneration of Peterhead town centre and surrounding area.”

Meanwhile, Travelodge announced last week that it would open in the town early next year as the first of several new retail units opened its doors in Chapel Street.

Bowbell, a boutique owned by Lynn Marr, opened at the end of last month, with Lynn stating: “I thought the town needed something like this so the opportunity came up and I decided to go for it.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Alan Gardiner, who has been working behind the scenes on improving the town centre for a number of years, said the success of the prison museum was “a tremendous opportunity for a major economic impact to local shops and businesses”.

He told the Buchanie: “Tour companies from all over the UK are looking to put Peterhead Prison Museum on as part of their tour. They are looking for other places close by to fill out their itinerary.

“I am also a board member at Peterhead Port authority, and we are also excited about creating within the new fish market development a visitors centre and potential filleting demonstrations.

“This is where, with some joined-up thinking and planning, we could really market ourselves as a town with something worth coming to see.

“This I hope will be something we can add in to what Peterhead can offer tourist groups going forward. Previously these companies have never really considered Peterhead as a tourist destination. However, with all the other good work that’s going on with heritage trails etc this can only strengthen what we can offer.

“Along with the big improvements in the town centre businesses and the general improved look of the shops - particularly the new signage on many of them - this has to encourage visitors coming to the town centre.

“I personally believe we will see a healthy increase in the economic viability, particularly of small businesses in our town.”