16 December 2021

Fraserburgh celebrates after receiving coveted 2021 SURF Award for Most Improved Place

Fraserburgh is celebrating after claiming the coveted title of ‘Most Improved Place in Scotland’ in the 2021 SURF Awards.

The town’s regeneration programme was recognised at a glittering awards night in Glasgow on Thursday, December 9 when SURF - Scotland’s Urban Regeneration Forum - showcased the most inspiring community achievements across Scotland.

The awards are delivered by SURF in partnership with the Scottish Government and other national partners.

The Judges said they were “really impressed” with the substantial improvements in the physical, social, community and economic future for Fraserburgh.

They said: “With strong support from Aberdeenshire Council, the community and businesses took a lead role and demonstrated a united front working with lots of agencies and organisations. The ‘can-do’ attitude of going out and seeking opportunities, including new business investment, leisure and sports facilities, has paid dividends.

“From the building preservation trust restoring vacant buildings to create a boutique hotel and improvements to other conservation properties, 60 new businesses starting in recent years due to the Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub, the aspiration of local wheeled sports and athletics groups to produce future Olympians by the building of a running and athletics track and the future development of a state of the art wheeled sports facility, there is real passion and ambition in the community. With even more projects in the pipeline, Fraserburgh has a very optimistic future.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s approach to regeneration in Fraserburgh has been driven by working in partnership and the plan has responded and adapted to priorities which will improve the quality of life for those who live, work and visit the town.

Celebrating the success, local councillor Doreen Mair, Chair of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee, said: “This is a proud day indeed for Fraserburgh and I am absolutely delighted to see the town collect this award which recognises the incredible partnership approach to our regeneration strategy and improvement work which continues to go from strength to strength.

“Working alongside a host of organisations, Aberdeenshire Council has developed a hugely-ambitious regeneration plan which, with significant local and national investment, is making Fraserburgh a very desired ‘place to be’ for residents, businesses and tourists.

“The SURF Award has recognised our town as the ‘Most Improved Place in Scotland’ which extends to our business community, our built heritage, enterprise, health and wellbeing and the judges were keen to emphasise that they were hugely impressed by the community spirit in the town, not only from its people but from its businesses, new and old, who have helped to achieve this.

“As we celebrate this achievement, we continue to look to the future where we will see even more improvements, more investment and more reasons for us all to say we’re proud to be from the Broch. Folk have thought of Fraserburgh as the end of the road – it is not – it is a destination!  It is also the beginning of the sea for the exciting opportunities which are coming from offshore renewables #270degofsea”

Vice-chair Cllr Michael Roy added: “Everyone who has played a part in the regeneration of Fraserburgh to-date and all those who continue to support our local businesses, amenities and events should rightly feel proud of their achievements and I look forward to the future with even greater optimism and anticipation.”

Cllr Brian Topping, chair of the Fraserburgh Regeneration Development Partnership, said: “The transformation of Fraserburgh’s built environment continues to play a significant part in the rejuvenation of many parts of the town and that has been deservedly recognised with such a coveted award. A key aspect of our strategy continues to be the close consultation with our local community, businesses and civic leaders and ensuring that our plans are flexible enough to evolve to overcome any challenges.”

Among the highlights featured in the award application were:

• The Faithlie Centre – completed in 2020, this is an award-winning architecturally-designed combination of heritage and contemporary approaches to bringing back two vacant listed properties in the heart of the town. The centre now provides a new council service point enabling local people to access the entire range of council services in one space, and providing a reinstated council chamber, third sector and employability support initiatives and the Enterprise Hub

• Various historic building conservation projects to restore, protect and bring back into use some of the key heritage properties in the town centre, including the derelict former John Trail bookshop which is being resurrected into a small boutique hotel

• The creation of a small Japanese-themed public memorial garden on the site of the birthplace of the late entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover, one of Fraserburgh’s most famous sons, which was previously a derelict brownfield plot

• The recent community-led, £1.2m public-accessible sports and running facility at South Links

• Construction of a state-of-the art multi-functional building at the Harbour is progressing to accommodate the Moray East Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Hub

Meanwhile, the natural environment is one of the town’s biggest, but perhaps still under-explored, assets. The popular town beach, which is also a focus for future regeneration activity, is nationally renowned as a year-round windsurfing and water sports destination and further reinforces the distinct relationship between the people and the seas.

The town centre retains a high proportion of independent traders – both in terms of retail and services and hospitality and new start-up businesses in the town centre in the last year include a healthy and organic food retailer, a candy and gift maker and a clothing retailer. New restaurants and cafes have also added to a more dynamic town centre daytime and evening economy and the recently formed Business Association is gaining traction.

The Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub – opened in Spring 2019 - offers free and impartial assistance to entrepreneurs, start-ups and established and growth businesses and social enterprises and to-date has supported more than 50 new start-ups and over 150 existing enterprises.