To Whom It May Concern:
Please treat this email as my submission to the Kirkintilloch masterplan consultation.
Kirkintilloch town centre is obviously of great interest and concern to my constituents living in Kirkintilloch, and also to those living elsewhere in East Dunbartonshire. It is clear that there is a desire for change in Kirkintilloch and I very much welcome the masterplan and its vision for an improved town centre we can all be proud of – a town centre reflecting Kirkintilloch’s cultural, historical and strategic significance.
Last autumn, I asked constituents to provide me with their opinions on Kirkintilloch town centre and what needs to be improved. My survey found that over 75% of respondents felt that Kirkintilloch town centre is currently poor or very poor. Reasons given for this included too many low-quality shops, a lack of parking, a lack of energy or ‘buzz’ and too many eyesores.
It is clear that better links are needed to create more integration between Cowgate, Townhead and other areas, particularly towards the canal. Kirkintilloch is, after all, the canal capital of Scotland and that should be reflected. There is certainly a degree of isolation in the town centre which is reinforced by the reduction in footfall. Better integration may also address the often problematic antisocial behaviour situation at night after the pubs and clubs close.
Kirkintilloch needs more communal outdoor spaces and more quality shops, restaurants and cafes to attract people into the town centre in the evenings and weekends. One barrier to improvement would appear to be the relatively high business rates which hamper current businesses and deter others from coming to Kirkintilloch.
The town centre also needs to be more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, and have improved parking provision. Currently, people are put off by poor access and this must be causing significant harm to the town centre. Walkers are Welcome and other initiatives do their best to attract people to Kirkintilloch but their efforts are hampered by these problems.
I therefore fully support the Council’s proposals to create a clearer, simplified streetscape with enhanced parking provision and more community space. I welcome plans to better integrate the town centre with other areas of Kirkintilloch and would urge the Council to take further steps, particularly in the short term, to deal with the barriers to retail development. I also agree with proposals to create a cultural or theatrical venue, which can provide a centre point to the town centre.
Jo Swinson MP