Cumbernauld Environmental Society hold 'positive' improvements conference for Cumbernauld Town Centre
Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 17:51 GMT on Tuesday 19th February, 2013.
CUMBERNAULD Environmental Society has declared war on those who stand against Town Centre improvements.

The local group has just held a Town Centre improvement conference, pulling in a number of local groups, organisations, people and representatives, with one thing in mind – Cumbernauld Town Centre positive improvements.

The Society’s website promoted the event, saying: “Cumbernauld is a town of differences: geographically, politically, economically, and culturally; but there is one thing that unites the town and that is the belief that Cumbernauld deserves a better town centre.”

The town’s Environmental Society is ready to spearhead the new wave of community action, following Cumbernauld’s most recent  nomination to the Urban Realm magazine’s ‘Carbuncle Award; a less than honourable award, given annually to the one town deemed to be the worst in Scotland.

Promoted by the town’s latest nomination, Cumbernauld Environmental Society organised the meeting, at Cumbernauld College, in order to set out a vision and plan for potential positive change within the area’s Town Centre, as well as contributing to North Lanarkshire Council’s Town Centre Action Plan, for which a new phase of consultation is underway.

The conference which was independently chaired by local Rotarian Professor Frank Clark managed to partner up the main Town Centre, and community stakeholders including, the managers of Cumbernauld Shopping Centre and the Antonine Shopping Centre, and representatives of North Lanarkshire Council, including senior planning officials and Councillors Chadha, Graham, Goldie, Irvine, Johnston, and Muir; as well as Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP Jamie Hepburn, and local MP Gregg McClymont. Also in attendance was John Glenday, Editor of Urban Realm magazine, enabling him to see first-hand, the demand and action being taken to improve Cumbernauld’s town centre.

The new action squad was joined by a number of the Councillors who are on the board of Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Ltd, an arms-length subsidiary of North Lanarkshire Council; given several million pounds by Cumbernauld Development Corporation, prior to its winding up in 1996, to facilitate the development of Cumbernauld Town Centre.
As part of the proceedings attendees were treated to presentations by Eric Hislop, Head of Regeneration and Infrastructure at North Lanarkshire Council; Professor Gordon Murray, Head of School for Architecture and Design at Strathclyde University; and, Councillor Tom Kerr, Provost of West Lothian Council, an instrumental figure in the redevelopment of Livingston Town Centre.

Following on from the presentations, open discussions acknowledged the difficulties around split ownership, with three private companies having control over the Town Centre, one of which is currently in administration; as well as the problems – and benefits - of having Central Way underneath the complex. Much of the discussion also centred around realistic possibilities of being able to take drastic action to deliver a wholesale redevelopment of the Town Centre in the current economic climate.

Throughout the conference, however, the discussion remained positive with a number of suggestions aired, including visions of a larger use for entertainment and leisure, creating more of an evening economy and increasing footfall during quieter periods; and, for work to take place to improve the look of the Town Centre access points, including the bus stances, as well as the overall external appearance, to make the Town Centre more welcoming to the facility’s users.

“As an initial event, and one which looked to build a foundation, the conference was unanimously well received, with interest and hope that future discussions could facilitate a number of positive improvements and the delivery of a Town Centre which the people of Cumbernauld could be proud of. A follow-up event is in the process of being planned, with greater community involvement, with details to follow at a later date,” the Society’s website reads.

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