Work has already progressed on West Blackhall Street to give shop fronts, pavements and road surfaces a new lease of life.
Regeneration Convener Councillor Jim Clocherty said: “This is a key part of our regeneration programme for Greenock town centre.
“West Blackhall Street is one of the first streets that thousands of cruise ship passengers see when they arrive in Greenock and we want to make it as accessible and attractive as possible. We are proud of our town and want visitors to enjoy their experience so much they come back for more.”
Inverclyde Council, Riverside Inverclyde and their partners successfully applied for £1.32 million from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund.
The total scheme which is underway for Greenock Town Centre is £1,985,000 with additional match funding being provided by Riverside Inverclyde and Inverclyde Council.
Plans have already been approved to refurbish existing shop fronts on Cathcart Street and work is already underway to create an event space and to upgrade the quality of the landscaping on either side of the junction of Cathcart Street with Rue End Street.
In West Blackhall Street paving slabs will be re-laid, tarmac repaired, chewing gum removed and railings re-painted. Work will also be carried out to improve shop fronts; clean stone work and remove vegetation from gutters.
Councillor Clocherty added: “Developing the town centre will make it a more positive place and a quality environment for business and the local community.”
The project forms part of the £180m James Watt Dock development. Riverside Inverclyde and Peel are behind one of the largest-ever individual regeneration projects yet seen in Scotland, with Greenock’s iconic Grade “A” listed Sugar Warehouse at its heart.
The focal point of the development will be a £5.4m transformation of these iconic “sugar sheds”, Scotland’s largest cast iron and brick structure, built in 1885.
The sheds were closed by Tate & Lyle in 1995 and have since lain derelict. A number of other projects have come to nothing over recent years.
The redevelopment sees the creation of state-of-the-art commercial, marina and leisure facilities set alongside modern residential and retail space.
Over a ten year period, the redevelopment of the 107-acre dock will see the creation of some 1,700 jobs; build in excess of 750 residential units; provide in excess of £10m-worth of social housing; establish 45,000 sq ft of retail space; create 145,600 sq ft of commercial space; enhance some 480 metres of waterfront and develop a 400+ berth marina
The project is being delivered via a new Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) between Riverside Inverclyde and Peel.
Speaking on behalf of Peel, Euan Jamieson said: “The James Watt Dock site is a huge opportunity, both from the point of view of location and potential, and it is important for the regeneration of Inverclyde.
“It is also a major challenge, with historic issues of low demand and infrastructure, and has resisted development for over two decades.”
The first new houses – a mixture of flats and family homes – will be ready in 2011, with the others to be launched in phases.
Work is under way to build the road and power infrastructure that will support the development, and to make the sugar sheds wind and watertight.
Once completed, the revamped building will be a mixture of loft-style apartments, offices, restaurants and cultural spaces, including a maritime museum.
Riverside Inverclyde’s chief executive, Bill Nicol, said the project marked a new beginning for Inverclyde. “Gradually this project will transform an area that was formally the absolute hub of Greenock.
“Through this project we will be building one of the most outstanding and vibrant locations in Scotland to live and work, that will be the envy of many.
“What we are seeing here is the creation of a sustainable community by bringing land and property back into use. The sugar sheds transformation is what we would call a ‘hope’ project.
“People can see the work going on already, and soon they will be able to come in and see how the place has been transformed. Sometimes big regeneration projects are talked about for years, then nothing happens. We are delivering.”
Meanwhile Mr Jamieson insisted that the long-term plan is flexible enough to withstand the global economic turndown. “We are continually looking at the economic situation and have confidence in this project.
“Already there is £180m secured and ringfenced to create the vital infrastructure that will enable the rest of the plan to go ahead in the coming years. I also believe that over the next two years the market will recover.
“There is strong demographic demand for the accommodation on offer, in close proximity to Glasgow. I am confident that the flexibility of this project will ensure we are in the best position to respond to the recovery.”
In addition a £2.2m access road has been completed, with £1.3m of works having been advanced on public realm works to create the backdrop for a Tall Ships event.
Other developments at James Watt Dock include Blue Sea Marinas being appointed as marina operator, with pontoons and moorings being installed in the historic dock. Later phases will see the creation of increased marina and leisure facilities set alongside attractive residential and retail space
2011 will also see Riverside Inverclyde advancing projects which have clear economic development outcomes and are aimed directly and job creation and business support:
Kelburn,a 6.45ha site just 15 minutes from Glasgow Airport; Riverside Business Park, an extensive business location already home to over 20 SME’s, where an additional phase of office development is planned. This will be constructed to a Grade A standard, with at least a very good BREEAM rating, and will comprise flexible sized office suites. The new accommodation will be available from late Autumn 2012; and Cartsdyke, a site accommodating up to 70,000 square feet of bespoke office accommodation, included dedicated car parking. The land has already been remediated and is ready for development.
This year will also see the start on two exciting new projects, including the refurbishment for commercial use of Greenock’s Georgian Customs House and in close partnership with Inverclyde Council, the redevelopment of Gourock town centre.
One attraction for the local community and visitors alike is set to be Greenock Arts Guild’s new theatre, the “Beacon” due to open in the middle of 2012. Set on the site of the former Lamont dry dock adjacent to the historic East India Harbour in Greenock, the new arts centre will house a five hundred seat auditorium, a one hundred seat studio theatre, rehearsal rooms and a café and bar.
The Scottish Government has invested £22m in the regeneration of the area. Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell said: “This redevelopment will breathe new life into Inverclyde and bring great benefits to those who live here, generating jobs and investment, and creating new homes and retail facilities.
“This project demonstrates that effective joint working between the public and private sectors can create certainty and confidence despite current market conditions.
“This will accelerate the ambitious programme to transform Inverclyde and ensure its proud heritage of the past heralds a bright new future.”