New regeneration strategy for Aberdeenshire

Town centre.
Town centre.

A NEW regeneration strategy for Aberdeenshire will prioritise delivery in areas of most need, initially in Fraserburgh.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) made the decision ahead of a report which will ask to begin preparation of the new document.

It will follow on from the current plan, which was approved in August 2010, and councillors also decided its scope should include social, cultural, economic and physical elements.

The current strategy, Framework for Regeneration in Aberdeenshire, sets out proposals and divides funds between three Regeneration Priority Areas (RPAs).

These cover the coastal parts of Buchan, Banff and Buchan and a coastal corridor in Kincardine and Mearns from Inverbervie to St Cyrus.

Changes mean a revised framework for the strategy is required; such as the fact local regeneration funding has become permanent and the introduction of the Scottish Government’s own regeneration strategy.

Aberdeenshire Council’s new strategy will focus on smaller geographical areas of most need, using a range of indicators such as the Scottish Indices of Multiple Deprivation, Town Centre Health Checks and other economic and social data.

Last year £250,000 went to the Banff and Buchan RPA, £66,000 each to the Kincardine and Mearns and Buchan RPAs, and £50,000 went to the Asset Fund for communities.

Under the new approach, funding will no longer be spread out to allow more focussed investment on an area for long enough to achieve substantial change.

Committee chairman, Peter Argyle, said: “We can take a more strategic view on how to tackle problems.

“Officers will engage widely with council services, community planning partners, representatives of business and education, community councils and other groups to develop a shared commitment within the strategy, designed to lead to collaborative gain.”

Vice chair, Alan Buchan, said: “We look forward to seeing and discussing the detail of what officers propose later in the Spring.”

The new regeneration strategy will increase the role of partners and council services in regeneration in its widest sense and improve integration between physical, economic, cultural and social regeneration initiatives using Community Planning.

It is intended that it will be outcome-focussed, taking a long-term view to 2025, setting goals which will be measured against targets.

Officers are expected to introduce the new Regeneration Strategy in a report to ISC in May.

Statistics and information are still being gathered, but there is judged to be sufficient evidence to justify nominating Fraserburgh as the current area of most need, based on a number of factors.

Other parts of Aberdeenshire will continue to have access to funds for regeneration through existing council budgets, planning gain, lottery funding, Heritage Fund, Historic Scotland and Creative Scotland funding.

Head of Economic Development, Belinda Miller, told councillors Fairer Scotland fund money, administered by the Community Planning Partnership, would also still be available to areas of greatest need.

Aberdeenshire Council has also made a commitment to improving town centres and enhancing the economic wellbeing of the whole area. As outlined in the Economic Development Strategy 2011-16, there will be a separate Town Centres Plan of Action drawn up to help strengthen the economic base of towns in Aberdeenshire.