Council completes Rothesay restoration project

Tenement buildings in Rothesay

After 13 years of successful heritage-led regeneration, Argyll and Bute Council has completed its project to restore and preserve key parts of Rothesay’s historic built environment.

Run by Argyll and Bute Council, stage one of Rothesay’s Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) began in 2011 and breathed new life into the town centre. This initial five-year programme was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£1.5M), Argyll and Bute Council (£0.5M), Historic Environment Scotland (£0.5M), and LEADER (£98K), and saw vast improvements in the east area of the town, including Guildford Square, Albert Place, East, and West Princes Street.

Due to the successful delivery of this initial programme, the council recognised the need to build on this to deliver greater economic benefit through further heritage regeneration investment and activities within the town centre. As a result, after a lot of work and successfully securing additional funding, Rothesay Townscape Heritage 2 (Rothesay TH) was born.

Building on the investment delivered through the THI, the £2.8 million Rothesay TH scheme has made a transformational difference to the town centre since it started in 2017, including:

  • Five priority buildings restored – 39-43 Victoria Street; 73-77 Victoria Street; The Winter Gardens Discovery Centre; 37 Victoria Street/1 Tower Street; and 69-72 Victoria Street.
  • Five shopfronts restored – The Electric Bakery, Glens Clothing, For Bute, DC Murray, and Gallagher’s.
  • Nine traditional window projects completed
  • Fourteen training and community engagement events involving school pupils and homeowners.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been a key partner in both stages of the Rothesay TH programmes, with the fund’s investment totalling almost £2 million in development and delivery support.

Rothesay Townscape Heritage 2 is also partly funded by Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and the Islands LEADER Programme 2014-2020, Smarter Choices Smarter Places, and Argyll and Bute Council.

To mark the successful completion of the works, the council held a series of celebration events in the town on the 7/8 March, which local businesses, contractors and members of the local community attended.

The events allowed attendees to reflect on what work has taken place with the investment, see the restored buildings, and chat with officers. Specialist conservation architects also provided businesses and tenement owners with informative workshops about how to look after buildings.

Talking afterwards, Councillor Liz McCabe, the council’s Policy Lead for Economic Development, said: “The Rothesay TH project has made a huge difference to the town centre. Not only has it helped to preserve Rothesay’s rich, historic townscape and improve the general look of the area, but it also provided many training opportunities for local businesses and tradespeople and has helped people safeguard their homes for the future.

“The celebration events were a great success and enabled everyone to come together to mark the historic preservation of our town. I would urge people to come and visit our wonderful island for themselves and see the work done in Rothesay as a result of the project.”

Caroline Clark, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland, said: “Rothesay Townscape Heritage has restored some wonderful historic buildings in the heart of the town. They are back to how countless thousands of visitors would have found them in the heyday of trips ‘doon the watter’ ensuring Rothesay’s place as highlight of the Clyde Riviera.

“Heritage driven regeneration successfully delivers improvements to the physical environment but more than that we know it drives renewed civic pride and community wellbeing. Thanks to National Lottery players who made our support for Rothesay, the town and the people, possible.”

You can find out more about the projects at Regeneration in Rothesay – Invest in Argyll (investinargyllandbute.co.uk).

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