Hawick Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme launched

AN ambitious £1.57million Hawick Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) has just been launched in the town.

Funded by Historic Environment Scotland (£1.314m), Scottish Borders Council (£200k) and the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (£60k), it is hoped that, in conjunction with private sector investment in building repairs, the direct spend through the scheme will be more than £2million over the five-year programme.

The main focus for the regeneration scheme is to help conserve and enhance historic town centre buildings, address issues with key properties, target bringing empty properties back into use, and encourage general repairs to others within a defined town centre area.

Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “Since the funding from Historic Environment Scotland was announced in April significant work has been going on behind the scenes to enable us to launch the Hawick CARS programme today and kick-start the five year project.

“The regeneration the CARS programme will deliver will enhance significant buildings at the heart of Hawick’s impressive High Street and the core of the conservation area, making it an even more attractive place for residents and Hawick’s increasing numbers of visitors.

“These works will be complemented by our recently-announced shopfront improvement scheme which will significantly improve the look and appeal of the High Street.”

“This is just the latest investment in the town by a collection of partners since the creation of the Hawick Action Plan, and reflects Scottish Borders Council’s prioritisation of Hawick and the focus of an Economic Development Working Group for the town.

“That work has seen over £5m of external funding directed to Hawick including delivering new business units at Galalaw, the creation of a Centre for Excellence in Textiles, a STEM hub at the Borders College site and the development of a business incubator centre and public space at the eyesore former Armstrong’s site.”

Six priority buildings, identified during the CARS bid process by the community-based Hawick CARS Steering Group have been included in the CARS programme, with a total budget of over £627,000 allocated to support traditional building repairs.

The buildings are:

  • Former Glenmac Mill, Teviot Crescent
  • 4 Round Close
  • 24 High Street
  • 26 High Street
  • Former Queens Head, 32 High Street
  • Former Liberal Club, 80 High Street/Brougham Place

Grant funding totalling £450,000 over the five years will also be available for other town centre property owners to undertake traditional building repairs.

Councillor Rowley added: “Having identified these key properties in prominent locations we aim to help the owners address long-standing building defects which are currently having a negative impact on the town centre, and in some instances have left the buildings unoccupied for some time.

“By working with these property owners and others throughout the town centre the Hawick CARS programme will hopefully see buildings not just improved but brought back in to active use, further contributing to town centre activity and benefiting the local economy.”

Other important elements of the scheme include reinforcing and enhancing awareness of the town’s rich history and heritage through community heritage projects, as well as the development of a programme of traditional skills training to enhance construction skills locally to look after the town’s historic environment for the future.

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland said: “We are delighted to support this Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and look forward to working with Scottish Borders Council on the project which is part of the wider regeneration work currently going on in Hawick.”   

The Council has an excellent track record in achieving funding for, and delivering, similar town centre schemes, including those successfully completed in Kelso and Selkirk and that ongoing in Jedburgh.

Local elected members, community groups including Hawick Community Council, Future Hawick and the local archaeological society all had input into the successful bid for the eighth round of competitive CARS funding from Historic Environment Scotland. It is hoped that these groups and others around the town will continue to play an important part as the scheme is delivered, ensuring that the initiative benefits the town as much as possible.

In a joint statement, the six councillors for Hawick and Denholm and Hawick and Hermitage said: “This is an important investment in Hawick and will help to improve a number of key buildings. We hope that other property owners will also take the opportunity to access the funding available to make repairs and improvements and breathe new life in to our town centre.”

In addition, and complimentary to the Hawick CARS programme, a ‘missing shares’ pilot scheme, focused on Hawick initially, has also been launched in the town today.

This will help enable essential common repairs to private properties within the town’s conservation area where property owners with shared responsibility are unwilling or unable to contribute to their share of the costs.

Councillor Rowley said: “Homeowners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their own homes, but where there is a shared responsibility for buildings there are often issues which result in either lengthy delays to repairs or no work being undertaken at all. This can lead to serious disrepair and ultimately to a building becoming dangerous or uninhabitable.

“This pilot scheme will enable the Council, in certain circumstances, to support willing owners by paying the missing share of the contribution for essential work and recover the cost. This will hopefully result in better maintenance of properties, supporting the CARS programme, and reduce the need for resource intensive enforcement work by officers.”