A pioneering plan to revitalise Kirkintilloch town centre is good news for shoppers, residents, traders and the local economy.
That’s the view of several local business owners and council leaders who are urging people to find out more about the Masterplan and the road ahead.
The project has proved controversial due to the plans for a ‘shared space’ at Catherine Street and hundreds have called on the scheme to be scrapped.
A series of public drop-in sessions are underway on plans for Cowgate, with more scheduled for: Saturday 7 November, 10am-5pm; Tuesday 10 November, noon-7pm; and Friday 13 November, 10am-5pm.
The sessions are taking place in Unit 7 (formerly Going Places) at the Cowgate/Regent Centre.
Entrepreneur Meeki Singh is one of the Kirkintilloch Town Centre Champions - a group set up to support and influence plans for the town.
He said: “I honestly believe we are going in the right direction with the Masterplan. Short term there is upheaval, but long term I think it will make Kirkintilloch better off.
“An example is the work carried out at Cowgate. Granted there is still work to be done, but in my nearly 20 years of being there, the place hasn’t looked better.
“In my opinion we should embrace the changes in order to enhance our town with a fresh, new look which is vibrant and welcoming - maybe even different.”
Peter Di Ciacca, Kirkintilloch Champion and local business owner, added: “I fully support the council’s initiatives and planned improvements to regenerate Kirkintilloch.
“The proposals for Catherine Street have attracted a lot of attention, but these are just one element of a much wider plan. It should be looked at in the context of the overall regeneration of the town centre.
“The ethos of these schemes can work very well and I look forward to seeing the rejuvenated Cowgate when the works are complete.
“I am pleased the council took the legitimate concerns expressed by local people into account with the amended plans for the Catherine Street junction and I welcome the commitment to keep monitoring the area and addressing any issues which arise.”
The final details have been agreed for the Cowgate public realm project - a key part of Kirkintilloch Town Centre Masterplan following consultation with residents, community groups, businesses, charities and stakeholders.
It is anticipated works will begin in early 2016 and will be focused initially around the canal bridge/St Mary’s area.
Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “The Kirkintilloch Champions have been a positive force for change in the town centre and I welcome the ongoing support for the Masterplan and its aims.
“It would be the easy option to sit back and do nothing, but we have been working for years to rejuvenate Kirkintilloch and I would appeal to people to make up their own minds about the proposals.
“We are determined to strike a new balance between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by removing street clutter, narrowing carriageways and widening footways - making the town centre more attractive for shoppers, traders, residents and visitors.
“I am pleased the drop-in sessions are underway and that they have been well attended. I would urge everyone to go along and find out the full story around what is proposed.”
John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland National Director, added: “We’re delighted to be working with East Dunbartonshire Council to transform Kirkintilloch town centre into a people-friendly space.
“A range of measures will re-balance the town centre, turning it into a low-speed environment and shift priority away from personal vehicles towards those travelling by foot, bike and public transport.
“The way our streets look and feel is hugely important to their success. Increasing the number of people walking around and spending time on our high streets is crucial to making Scotland’s town centres successful, vibrant places.”