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Elgin town centre: Timeline announced for Junners and the Jailhouse Nightclub redevelopment

By Lewis McBlane

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WORK could start next year on bringing Elgin town centre properties, including the old Junners toyshop and the Jailhouse Nightclub, back into use.

From the air: South Street development plans.
From the air: South Street development plans.

Moray Council have confirmed that a planning application for the major project is planned for 2024 – with a start date within 12 months.

Images of new architect drawings have also been released.

The Elgin City Centre Masterplan will see empty buildings on South Street and the High Street redeveloped – and the two streets linked up – with a new Business Enterprise Hub, affordable housing and retail space.

Several properties on the two streets have lain empty for years, including two former toy shops and two derelict sites, formerly the Newmarket Bar and the Jailhouse nightclub.

Historic maps and research show that the site was once the Victoria Market, connecting South Street to the High Street.

In recent years, some of the buildings have been marketed but no suitable regeneration projects have come forward.

The plans would see derelict and disused buildings in the centre of Elgin transformed.
The plans would see derelict and disused buildings in the centre of Elgin transformed.

Funding for the project comes from a recently confirmed £18.3m Levelling Up Fund grant, together with Moray Growth Deal cash.

A public exhibition on Saturday, December 16, 2023 between 10am and 2pm, will give the public a chance to look at the proposals at 118 High Street, Elgin, next to Starbucks.

Along with Moray Council, Robertson Property Ltd (RPL) is delivering the works, Oberlanders Architects have drew up new diagrams of the expected works and UHI Moray is providing support for the Business Hub plan.

Town centre organisation Elgin BID, as well as Elgin MADE, are also involved according to the council.

The proposal includes 35-40 residential units in line with Scottish Government and Moray Council plans.

And, led by UHI Moray, the 800m2 Business Enterprise Hub Growth Deal project will be funded by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). A full business case for the plan is in its final stages, it is understood.

Commercial units and "high-quality public spaces" will also be created according to Moray Council.

RPL is progressing site assembly and discussions are ongoing with building owners and residents.

Councillor Marc Macrae, Chair of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “The efforts to regenerate the town centre with these projects will see derelict buildings brought back into use generating significant footfall within Elgin and supporting businesses across Moray through the construction and operational phases.

According to the council, work could begin next year.
According to the council, work could begin next year.

“After so many years lying empty it’s an exciting prospect to have new life breathed into these buildings. While it’s a complex project it’ll give a new dimension to South Street and the High Street and we’re confident we’ll start to see the transformation in the next few years.

“It’s great to see such positive developments alongside the work others are undertaking on South Street, such as the Gordon & MacPhail redesign and the lane clean-ups in the area.”

Elliot Robertson, Robertson Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “As a business founded in Elgin, Robertson has played a significant role in supporting the local economy and employment.

"As the development partner for South Street, we continue to support the city and be a positive contributor to its wellbeing.

"Sharing Moray Council’s vision, this project sees the repurposing and rejuvenation of empty buildings into a thriving hub of residential housing, commercial units, and a new space for Business Enterprise, for the benefit of the local community and beyond.

“By transforming previously neglected areas whilst fostering community and business growth, we are embarking on a new chapter in Elgin's history. Together with Moray Council, UHI Moray and HIE, we are committed to making this part of the Elgin City Centre Masterplan a reality.”

David Patterson, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI Moray said: “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting, planned development in Elgin, not just for the rejuvenation of South Street, but as part of the wider support that the Business Enterprise Hub will provide to new start-up businesses in Moray, and to the scaling up of small and micro businesses here.

"The Hub will reflect the past history of this site, and will also enable this historic marketplace to become a bustling community space once more, where students, entrepreneurs and businesses coincide and where ideas can be traded and an entrepreneurial spirit flourish.”

In addition to the proposals for South Street, discussions are ongoing for a second phase of the development, which will see the former Gordon Arms Hotel site at 118 High Street, rejuvenated to provide a creative arts hub and pop-up shop.

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