A new widely-supported bid to encourage extensive regeneration of Stornoway town is under way, according to the Stornoway Regeneration Group (SRG).
It is looking to create a strategic plan to enable a range of improvements that cover not only the town centre but also the long-overlooked Newton area, which is the major industrial and commercial powerhouse for the whole Isle of Lewis.
The project is to look at a whole range of familiar planning themes – relocation of the gas and oil depots, traffic and parking improvements, additional town centre living space and student accommodation, and further heritage enhancements.
An alphabet soup of official and local bodies is backing the development of the plan – including Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES); Stornoway Port Authority (SPA); the Stornoway Trust; Lews Castle UHI; Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP); Stornoway Historical Society, and Stornoway Amenity Trust.
Recent SRG publicity explains that the Stornoway Development Group (SDG) has been “set up to with the SRG on implementing Stornoway projects. Once the master-plan is complete, the SDG will appoint a Town Centre Manager and administer the Town Centre Legacy Fund and hopefully a means will be found whereby the fund can be maintained.
“This gives town centre businesses a specific role in the regeneration of the town. This is a unique and much-sought-after arrangement which meets a long-held aspiration of SRG.
“The SDG will have the opportunity to suggest methods of working which will enhance the town centre. They will have a direct link to the Comhairle and SRG.”
On behalf of the SRG - set up in 2004 – CnES Councillors Angus McCormack and Roddie Mackay say: “All in all, this is a most auspicious time to be creating a Stornoway Strategic Plan. With all of the local agencies working together and with the Scottish and perhaps the UK government minded to fund town regeneration, it is important that Stornoway demonstrates its ambition to improve the town by taking really significant steps forward.
“We need public support to do this. There will be opportunities in the New Year for you to participate and comment on the master plan.
“We hope you will be able to come along to our public meetings to have your say. Alternatively, contact us at the e-mail addresses below.”