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Moray Council to bid for Levelling Up Fund cash to support Elgin town centre masterplan


By Jonathan Clark

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MORAY Council is set to submit a bid for £18.29 million to the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund that could spark the regeneration of Elgin town centre.

With several local authorities across Scotland expected to apply for the same funding, it will be a competitive process. However, if approved, funding will support the Elgin town centre masterplan, which councillors signed off on in November.

The masterplan, with help from levelling up funding, will offer economic, social and environmental benefits to Elgin – including the creation of dozens of jobs.

The pond and boardwalk at Cooper Park in Elgin after a potential regeneration.
The pond and boardwalk at Cooper Park in Elgin after a potential regeneration.

A response to the funding bid is expected this autumn, said Moray Council Convener, Cllr Marc Macrae (Conservative, Fochabers-Lhanbryde).

Speaking after full council approved the bid, he said: “The scale of these projects is ambitious and that is exactly what we need to be for Moray.

“Investment of this magnitude will level up Elgin and Moray, with the creation of jobs, introduction of a vibrant night-time economy and bringing much-loved Moray features and buildings back to life.

“I hope the public will get behind these monumental projects and play their part in helping to shape the design of them.

"I look forward to the outcome of the bid, which is expected in the autumn, and to experiencing this exciting, revamped Elgin.”

The Central Elgin project will support the development of the evening economy in Elgin and see the Elgin Club re-open, after 20 years closed, as a boutique hotel with bar and restaurant facilities.

An artist's impression of the Elgin Club's exterior.
An artist's impression of the Elgin Club's exterior.

The ground floor Reading Room will provide a high-quality space, available for use for small scale events. It’s expected at least 32 jobs will be created with this project.

A number of properties, including 51 and 57 South Street, the derelict former Jailhouse nightclub, Newmarket bar, and the old Victoria Market, will bring forward commercial, retail, and residential development, including the creation of a new student social space in partnership with Highlands and Islands Student Association.

A creative arts centre on South Street will provide eight new jobs and deliver long-term community benefit to support the creative industries sector and community art projects across Moray.

Improved traffic control measures and streetscape works will support active travel, address accessibility issues, provide new disabled parking and help create an outdoor café culture to complete the Central Elgin project.

Other projects being submitted in the bid are the Auction Mart and former Sawmill by Linkwood Road, which have been lying vacant for a number of years. Flooding issues and access constraints will be addressed before the sites are opened up for commercial development.

Finally, there is the re-imagining of Cooper Park. Bringing the pond back into active use with accessible walkways, planting for biodiversity, new seating, and boat/paddleboard hire from a jetty.

The pond at Cooper Park after potential regeneration.
The pond at Cooper Park after potential regeneration.

The existing toilet block will be extended and repurposed into a café and ticket office with changing places toilet to improve facilities for park users.

A new outdoor amphitheatre and performance space will be developed for hire for drama, music, film events, festivals and use by local groups.

An artist's impression of what the amphitheatre in Cooper Park would look like.
An artist's impression of what the amphitheatre in Cooper Park would look like.

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