The area around a Peterhead shopping precinct could soon be formally adopted by Aberdeenshire Council.
Plans will go before local councillors this week to include the Clerkhill shopping precinct on Clerkhill Road on the List of Public Roads.
Members of the Buchan Area Committee agreed back in October to begin the process to enable an area of footway and public precinct at the shopping area to be adopted to allow for better future maintenance.
As part of the wide Peterhead Development Partnership’s Regeneration Plan for Peterhead, a scheme has been developed to address the long-term amenity, safety and maintenance of the Clerkhill precinct.
Councillors agreed to undertake the adoption project to promote community wellbeing by providing a “safe, attractive and well maintained public space” as part of its commitment to regeneration in Peterhead.
By adding the area to the statutory List of Public Roads, it will enable the local authority to carry out the works required to bring the area up to an adoptable standard and ensure the long-term maintenance of the area.
The issue over the ownership of the precinct has long been a bone of contention, with areas of poorly-maintained slabs and steps alongside deteriorating cobbled areas causing concern for shop owners and customers alike. Some problem areas were tarred in recent years to improve access, but uneven slabbed areas continue to be a cause for concern.
One customer said: “It’s about time something was done with this path because I have fallen in recent years and I know others who have also taken a tumble.”
Local businesses have applauded the council move, with Carol Greig, director of Jazmayne Embroidery and Print, saying: “I definitely welcome the council adopting the precinct.
“They’ve tried small things to improve the area but they were really only little fixes to what is a far larger problem.”
She added: “We have been here for over three years now and it would be great to see some proper improvements.”
Echoing those sentiments, was Stuart Maskame, manager of recently-opened SM Vaping. He said: “This would be a really good thing for Clerkhill. There is a lot of footfall here and a large percentage of that is elderly folk who should have a far better and safer precinct to access the shops.”
Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith said: “Improvements to the area in front of the Clerkhill shops has been a priority of mine for some time now, as it is a source of regular complaints and even, unfortunately, trips and falls.
“The ownership of the area is in private hands, hence why the council couldn’t just go in and make improvements.
“But as the most important shopping area in the town after the town centre, I was keen that something should be done.
“The legal process of the council taking over the land has been long and complicated owing to the nature of the ownership.
“However, we’re nearing the end of that and I hope that before too long we can see work starting on getting this area tidied up and looking more respectable, getting rid of the trip hazards.”