New regeneration strategy for Aberdeenshire

A new regeneration strategy aimed at creating strong and diverse towns and vibrant, growing communities has been approved by councillors.

Previously Aberdeenshire’s Regeneration Strategy focussed the council’s whole regeneration budget of £400,000 on the Fraserburgh area.

A Four Towns Programme, aimed at improving and strengthening the town centres of Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead was also being delivered.

Following a decision to review this situation by Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) in 2015, a new approach is now being taken.

The new Regeneration Strategy for Aberdeenshire, “From Strategy to Action: Developing Excellence in our North Coast Communities”, will now be implemented.

While it continues to focus on these four northern towns and the opportunities and assets which can be capitalised on, it moves away from a purely town-centred approach, taking a whole-town approach based on people, place and prosperity.

Building on the work which had gone before, through the Regeneration Strategy Action Plan, it ties in with the Scottish Government’s national regeneration strategy.

The new Aberdeenshire strategy sets out the approach needed for renewal and development, the aspects which require focus and the strategically important issues which are likely to shape the related action plans for each town.

The two relevant local area commitees, Buchan and Banff and Buchan, had a chance to input and comment on the draft strategy.

Following recommendations for Local Development Partnerships (LDPs), designed to provide leadership and a forum for collaborative working within communities, councillors on the area committees will also be responsible for approving action plans for the towns.

It is intended there would be active involvement by a range of local partners and community representatives, as well as local councillors, to help improve the areas.

One of the LDPs’ first tasks will be to further develop the new strategy by setting out the vision for their town and by suggesting actions needed to implement it.

The new strategy and arrangements for delivering it, including the formation of the LDPs, were approved at a meeting of ISC in Aberdeen last week. (Thu, March 22)

Speaking after the meeting, ISC chairman, David Aitchison, said: “This council is committed to continuing to invest in our communities, especially those which are most fragile, and I believe this new approach to regeneration puts us in the best position to achieve that with the resources we have.

“Our towns need to be strong and diverse, building on traditional industries, and we want to ensure our north coast communites are vibrant places of growth and innovation, attractive, growing with new business and inspiring places to live, work and visit.

“There’s been a pent-up desire within these communities to see action on regeneration, which is reflected in the enthusiasm of local members to get involved in the process and see action on the ground, so I’m pleased we can now implement this new strategy and take a fresh approach to the issue.”

ISC vice chair, Stephen Smith, said: “Not only does this new approach expand the area of focus to include the areas outwith town centres, it allows us to focus more resources on four of our northern towns, as opposed to just one.

“There is no doubting the need for this work, looking at each of the four towns, and the formation of local partnerships which represent a wide cross-section of the local community will help to accurately identify what needs to be done and how best to do that.”

Both ISC and Buchan and Banff and Buchan Area Committees will receive six-monthly progress reports.

The Regeneration Member Officer Working Group which had been in place under the old strategy has now been dissolved. 

More information, including a copy of the new Regeneration Strategy for Aberdeenshire, is available in the report to committee.