Cumbernauld in five to ten years; major changes on the way for the former ‘Carbuncle’ town

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 19:55 on 22 January 2014.
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26-06-2013 - By Scott Campbell (+44) 0774 296 870 - Cumbernauld Town Centre; Picture shows Cumbernauld Town Centre, from outside North Bus Stop.
Cumbernauld town centre is one part of major changes. Pic: Cumbernauld Media.

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CUMBERNAULD could see major aesthetic changes in this year of culture, history, referendum and sport, with a number of planning applications finally visualising proposals for new developments across Cumbernauld, including new housing schemes and supermarkets.

‘Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Hub’.

As we reported yesterday (21st January 2014), Cumbernauld’s ageing Muirfield Community Education Centre, will soon be demolished and rebuilt; becoming ‘Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Hub’ by the time it opens in approximately two years.

Plans show major changes to the Centre. Pic: NLC. Click to enlarge.

The fresh centre would house offices, rooms for let, a café, nursery and allotments. Talking to Cumbernauld Media, one of the council’s development officers said the project would cost approximately £8million, with nearly £5m already banked for the project. Outside of the soon-to-be hub are plans to build new pavements, construct a new play area, car park, landscaping and an access road from South Muirhead Road, adjacent to Farmfoods.

Apart from the proposed ‘Hub’ development – which is expected to get underway later this year, a number of planning applications now serve as a prospectus for the future of Cumbernauld.

Plans for Cumbernauld town centre.

The development of Cumbernauld town centre is perhaps the most intriguing question of all, with the centre’s new owners keeping their cards close to their chest.

However, on December 18th 2013, we broke the story of how the centres new owners - Hamilton Portfolio Ltd and Belgate Estates, operating as Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP – had agreed upon their preferred development plan for the 58-year-old building.

26-06-2013 - By Scott Campbell (+44) 0774 296 870 - Cumbernauld Town Centre; Picture shows Cumbernauld Town Centre, as viewed from A8011 footbridge.
Cumbernauld town centre to see major changes, sources say. Pic: Cumbernauld Media.

The corporate pairing made the purchase of the UK’s first indoor shopping centre back in June 2013, after the centre’s previous owners, CNC Investments, entered administration.

Announcing the purchase of the building, at the time, a spokeswoman for the companies said an “asset management strategy” would be made available within due course. Since the statement from the new owners, eager residents have waited with bated breath, to learn which direction the new owners would take the centre.

In our December article we reported that sources within the companies had told us how Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP were “planning a major overhaul of the centre’s interior, with large aesthetic improvements on the cards”. The companies refused to comment on their plans still, although sources said that the new owners were looking to bring bigger and better shops to the centre, as well as amusement and entertainment facilities, including a brand new cinema. Plans seemingly also include the part demolition and renovation of numerous units in the centre’s Forth Walk; plans which would see the complex’s former ‘Curves’ and ‘MacKays’ units become a brand new town centre food court.

Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP are expected to make their plans public very soon; setting out their plans to take the complex forward. However, one area of speculation is whether or not the new owners will take forward an earlier planning application, from CNC Investments, to convert offices back into penthouses. 

Flats for Cumbernauld town centre, again?

Nothing has been confirmed yet, either by Hamcap or our sources that the 2011 planning application from CNC Investments to reverse the change of use for offices in Avon Walk back towards penthouse flats will be upheld. Nevertheless, speculation will linger over what the new owners will actually do with the ageing archway which stares down on the southern side of the town.

26-06-2013 - By Scott Campbell (+44) 0774 296 870 - Cumbernauld Town Centre; Picture shows Cumbernauld Town Centre, Leven Way, close-up.
Avon Walk was once all penthouses before safety concerns arose. Pic: Cumbernauld Media.

As part of their planning statement, Planning Consultants Development Planning Partnership (DPP) on behalf of CNC Investments Ltd noted that ‘Avon House’ was once a selection of penthouses, with plans to recreate the original plans, and form a ‘lobby’ in the ground floor car park, and direct elevators leading up to the flats. 

According to the statement, CNC Investment Ltd’s plans would see, “the reintroduction of the original concept of 35 one bedroom flats”, providing occupants with “separate bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living space”, alongside an “internal area of approximately 75sq.m”. Occupants, according to the statement would also benefit from “excellent levels of privacy”, and enjoy views from windows on “both north and south facing elevations”.

The proposals were backed by the council’s Planning and Transportation committee, with a report from July 10th 2011 backing the plans, subject to conditions.

In their report, the committee said that the plans to return the offices to their “original use as flats” would “support the vitality and viability of the Town centre”.

The report added:  “The principle of the development is considered to be acceptable and will not impact negatively on the character or amenity of the surrounding uses and is therefore considered to be acceptable. In this respect the proposal complies with the adopted Cumbernauld Local Plan, 1993.”

Meanwhile, the conditions attached to the application’s approval meant that the owners had three years to commence work on the plans, in accordance with the drawings submitted as part of their application. That means that planning permission is still live until July 10th, this year.

Work has yet to start, and as Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP is yet to publicly outline their strategy for the town centre, speculation will continue as to whether or not the development could, or will, go ahead. The only indication of movement on the proposals is two e-mails, exchanged between a council Planning Officer and independent property consultancy firm, Allsop –dated yesterday (21st January 2014), which urges the council to contact Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP to learn of their opinion on the plans, started by their predecessors.

Bauhaus College vision could inspire developments.

Previous efforts to inject some vision into the ageing ‘concrete monster on stilts’ ended with students from the College of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the Bauhaus College, of Germany, visiting Cumbernauld to inject some visionary proposals for the future development of the town centre.

The competition – dubbed the ‘CTC Award’ aimed to find the best urban idea for the future of the Cumbernauld town centre, with entrants asked to illustrate an innovative strategy to reorganize the town centre and to outline how their vision would improve the future use of the complex; aiming to address the past development problems, and find a transformational solution which would make use of the existing centre complex.

Five options were taken – the public voted and Gordon Murray, a renowned architect, with a keen interest in Cumbernauld, Katherine Sneeden, a Town Planner and Associate Partner with DPP, Steven Griffiths, a Chartered Surveyor and Director of CNC Property Fund Management Limited, and Emma Newlands of the Cumbernauld News made up the judging panel.

Up for grabs were prizes of £1,000, £750 and £500. The first prize of £1,000 was jointly presented for the concepts of ‘Walking - Avenue, Plaza & Woods’ and ‘cumbernow 2010!’. ‘towncentre for tomorrow’ came third, winning £500.

The future of Cumbernauld town centre? ‘Walking - Avenue, Plaza & Woods’ concept.

The 2009 competition, undertaken as part of the 'CIAM Urbanism - Cities of Tomorrow' project, pulled in 3,000 votes, with Steven Griffiths, director of CNC Property Fund Management Limited, saying at the time that the competition was “interesting”, suggesting it may become annual, with the proposals from some of the Berlin students addressing some major issues, such as Central Way.

The winning design, 'CTC Walking: Avenue, Plaza & Woods', proposed transforming Cumbernauld town centre with landscaping, such as tree-lined avenues and a central plaza, with Central Way becoming mostly pedestrianized, with a speed limit of 10mph, with access only for buses, delivery vehicles and cars looking to park. Joint winner, 'cumbernow 2010!', meanwhile, proposed hosting an annual drive-in international film festival, inspired resident feedback that Cumbernauld lacks its own cinema. 

Patchwork-style concept, 'Town Centre for Tomorrow', which came in third, focussed on the addition of more outdoor leisure facilities in a grid-style layout, with outdoor facilities for children, older people, chess players, and sports enthusiasts. 

Although only an illustrative competition the ideas of better landscaping, existing structures, facilities and a calm down of Central Way, may help inform the development of Cumbernauld town centre well into the future, particularly as its new owners look towards setting out their development and management plan.

Outside of the town centre, Cumbernauld’s shoppers could soon be having the choice of five supermarkets – two Tescos, an ASDA, a Morrisons, and maybe even a Sainsbury’s. 

Morrisons want to open a store in Cumbernauld.

As we reported on May 25th 2013, “CUMBERNAULD could see a new superstore in the coming years after Morrisons lodged a planning permission application, in principle, last weekend.” The supermarket chain then entered consultation into their Planning Permission in Principle application, which has since shown massive public support for the firm setting up shop across the road from St. Maurice’s High School on Westfield Road.

The ‘in principle’ application proposes the construction of a food store, to be occupied by Morrisons; a 6 pump Petrol Filling Station; in addition to a number of mixed uses, such as a ‘drive thru’ and bar/ restaurant, similar to the situation as Cumbernauld’s branch of ASDA.

Morrisons say they want a Cumbernauld store to be a "catalyst". Pic: Morrisons.

Following the lodging of his company’s ‘in principle’ application, Richard Bakes, a development executive for Morrisons, told the press: “Morrisons is dedicated to growth in Scotland and our ambitious plans for Cumbernauld will benefit the local area in a number of ways.

“The site will provide new, local jobs and enhanced choice for shoppers, whilst we also hope the development will act as a catalyst for further regeneration.”

The chain then suggested that a new Cumbernauld branch would create approximately 330 jobs, with local residents said to be the preferred option in the recruitment process.

Despite public opinion being positive, however, sources at North Lanarkshire Council have said that the firm’s application is set to be voted down, as it is an ‘out of town centre’ development. Indeed, the Planning and Transportation Committee’s meeting to discuss the matter, which was scheduled to take part earlier today, has been moved back to February 22nd. 

Other than Morrisons at Westfield, a new supermarket chain is looking to set up shop near Castlecary. 

Further development at Westway Retail Park.

On June 24th 2013, North Lanarkshire Council’s Planning department received a ‘Proposal of Application Notice’, for a “Major Development, Supermarket, Petrol Filling Station, Car Wash, Car Parking, Access, Landscaping and Associated Works”, at Westway Retail Park, on Castlecary Way.

Submitted to North Lanarkshire Council by Glasgow’s Turley Associates on behalf of Cumbernauld Retail Park Limited Partnership, the application followed the publication of plans by the site’s main letting agent, Harvey Spack Field, which showed plans for a ‘proposed’ foodstore to the west of the existing retail park. 

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s Nationalist MSP then welcomed the plans, with supermarkets such as Tesco, ASDA, Aldi, Lidl and M&S denying that the plans were theirs. Sainsbury’s, however, had previously used Turley Associates for their applications, and when we contacted them, the supermarket chain couldn't offer any comment, but to accept that they had used Turley Associates in the past.

Plans of the Retail Park were changed recently. Pic: Harvey Spack Field.

The Proposal of Application Notice was then accepted by North Lanarkshire Council’s Planning department, in July 2013, although no further action has been taken to move the planning process forward. 

Away from shops and retail parks, plans are afoot to build numerous new homes throughout Cumbernauld.

Nearly 1,000 new houses for Cumbernauld. 

Planning applications currently circulating the council’s ‘ePlanning’ website appear to show that Cumbernauld is in line for almost 1,000 new houses in the years ahead, although the final figure won’t be known until the planning process is cleared by all, or some, of the applicants involved.

Presently, six applications are on the council’s ‘ePlanning’ system; six applications which aren't all proper planning applications, but help to build a picture of how Cumbernauld’s housing could look in the coming decade.

The first of the applications was received by the council’s Planning department on June 28th, 2013, by planning agents Farningham Planning Ltd, on behalf of Sanctuary Cumbernauld. 

The application, named: ‘Construction of Residential Development (80 Flatted Units ) Including the Demolition of 3 Existing Tower Blocks’ would see the three tower blocks at Berryhill Road, in the Seafar area of Cumbernauld. 
Artist’s impression. Picture: Oliver and Robb Architects LLP/ Sanctuary. 

The plans show Sanctuary’s plans to construct 80 flats after the three tower blocks, which currently dominate part of the Seafar skyline are torn down. Once demolition work has taken place, eighty new dwellings will be constructed in three phases; each phase will have two parts – A and B. The blocks of flats will either be three or four storeys high, and resemble the same architectural styling as the social landlord’s new scheme in Fleming Road.

Berryhill Rd plans. Picture: Oliver and Robb Architects LLP/ Sanctuary. 

The application is still pending a final decision, although it another phase of Sanctuary’s ‘High Rise Project’, to tear down Cumbernauld’s ageing grey tower blocks, and replace them with modern, comfy homes. 

Both of the next two applications were received by North Lanarkshire Council on July 1st, 2013, and mark further progress in Sanctuary Cumbernauld’s ‘High Rise Project’.

In the first application Sanctuary Cumbernauld are applying for permission to construct 39 flatted units on the former Seafar site of Ochilview Residential Home, which was closed some years ago, and pulled down in the last two months.

Hume Road artist's impression. Pic: idpartnership-scotland/ Sanctuary.

Although the application has had no formal decision issued, according to the ePlanning website, the demolition of the former care home has taken place in the last couple of months, with site clearance now under way. 

If Sanctuary’s planning application is approved then the former Home’s site will become the basis for 39 flatted units in two blocks, made up of a 3-storey 9 unit block and a 3 to 4 storey 30 unit block, all surrounded by associated landscaping and car parking provision. 38 of the flats will be two bedroom units, with one being a three bed.

Sanctuary Cumbernauld development phases. Pic: Sanctuary.

Once complete, the Hume Road part of the High Rise Regeneration Project will compromise of seven flatted unit blocks and finish phase three of the High Rise Project, with the second planning application of July 1st 2013 being a planning application to construct 90 flatted units and demolish the three existing tower blocks, known as Drummond House, Blair House and Scott House.

Completed Hume Road, bird's eye. Pic: Sanctuary Cumbernauld.

Existing pavements will also be maintained, for pedestrian access, with the views for pedestrians set to change, particularly heading from the Royal British Legion club.

Hume Road, from British Legion. Pic: idpartnership-scotland/ Sanctuary.

The next application to land in the council planning department in-tray was received on November 1st last year, and is a request for an Environmental Impact Assessment, in respect of proposals to construct about 800 properties in Abronhill.

Named ‘Request for an EIA Screening Opinion: Development comprising circa. 800 Residential Units, Mixed Use Community Facilities, Open Space, Landscaping and Associated Roads and Infrastructure’, the application is pending consideration, in respect of proposals to construct approximately 800 houses on Abronhill’s Forest Road.

The proposals for the development are not set out in any great detail yet, as the application is only for an Environmental Impact Assessment. Nonetheless, the client behind the project is the council themselves, who wish to construct the mega development on the 52 or so hectares of scrub land.

No further details about the project will become available for a while yet, although Anderson Bell and Chrisite Architects is the firm behind site plans to date. 

Council sources, meanwhile, have also cast doubt over any such development, with authority sources telling Cumbernauld Media that the development is on hiatus until the economy is in a better position, and the council assess the situation. One thing is certain, however, Abronhill High School will no longer exist by the time the development is completed, if the council decides to take their proposals forward in the future. 

St. Andrew’s Drive in the Westerwood area of Cumbernauld is another site for potential residential development, after well-respected house building companies Barratt and Ogilvie entered a planning application to construct nearly one-hundred new houses in the street.

Received by North Lanarkshire Council on November 5th, 2013, Barratt Homes and Ogilvie Homes Ltd, working with JAM Architects as their partners say they want to construct eighty-seven new houses, and extend the current housing schemes in the area.

St Andrew's Dr., by Ogilvie and Barratt. Pic: DWA Architects Ltd/ Barratt and Ogilvie.

The application, called: “Residential Development Comprising 87 No. Dwellinghouses with Associated Infrastructure Including Access Roundabout, SUDS Drainage Basin, Equipped Play Area and Landscaping” is still pending consideration, although comments and representations made so far appear to oppose the plans, mostly on environmental reasons.

So, turning back to the main question – how will Cumbernauld look in five to ten years? The answer is complex, but the future looks much positive than the present, with new, determined Town Centre owners, redevelopment of community facilities, new school buildings, new homes and the chance of new supermarkets, as well as the first steps towards a ‘Cumbernauld Peace and Memorial Garden’ underway, change is coming to the town dubbed a ‘carbuncle’ twice. 

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