Cumnock’s long regeneration journey has taken a great leap forward with the completion of foundations and start of steelwork erection at the Farmfoods site, right in the heart of the town centre.
Leader of East Ayrshire Council, Councillor Douglas Reid was joined by local Councillors, Jim McMahon, Billy Crawford, Jacqui Todd and Walter Young as they met Site Manager, Michael McLaughlin of Braithwaite Group who’re building the new 10,000sq ft shop unit together with five additional units for rent.
It’s a move that will transform the centre of Cumnock, bringing additional parking, and new shops on the site of the former Glaisnock shopping centre.
Designed to fit in with the local architecture, and blending in with the town’s historic buildings and the parade of seven shops built on Townhead Street by East Ayrshire Council, the new development will bring a fresh look to the town.
Showing off the plans, Michael said: “Farmfoods will be open for Christmas – that’s our plan. Like Farmfoods, Braithwaites is a family owned firm, and we’ve had a great relationship with Farmfoods going back many years. When we work with Farmfoods we do everything from site works up to final fit out.
“When we finish on this site we’re moving straight to Cumbernauld to work on a brand new distribution centre for Farmfoods in Cumbernauld. We’ll be there for four and a half years, creating a building the size of ten football parks. It’s a sign of the confidence the company has in Cumnock and Scotland that they’re putting money into these developments.”
Councillor Douglas Reid said: “It’s great to see this taking shape. From starting to negotiate the termination of leases and acquisition of shops in the old precinct, to getting the funding, designs and permissions for this new development has taken some time, and it’s not been and easy time for the town. At the same time, many of Cumnock’s historic buildings have undergone extensive restoration thanks to our Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) grants.
“So to get this development underway is the icing on the cake, the final piece in the jigsaw, a whole new look for Cumnock Town Centre. Part of the development includes a new path along the river, linking to the footbridge to Rothesay House, opening up new access and providing a pleasant oasis.
“As always there is more to be done, and many businesses have already joined the effort by sprucing up their premises. They can rest assured we’ll not be resting on our laurels. Our regeneration team are always working to find ways to help peoples’ lives and livelihoods through appropriate restoration and improvement of buildings.”
Alistair Kay, Farmfoods, said: “Farmfoods is a Scottish family business, established for over sixty years. After working hard with East Ayrshire Council we are excited to soon be opening a large, modern shop in Cumnock. The new shop will have over a hundred freezers and our full range of great quality frozen food, branded groceries & household items, all at amazing prices. We can’t wait to see you and your family and friends there.”
For local Councillor Jacqui Todd, the benefits of the new development can’t come fast enough.
She said: “Farmfoods has always been a draw for people, bringing them into town from the surrounding areas, it’s always had a good turnover and it’s been missed. It’s more than just a new shop. For Cumnock this is going to promote business back into the town, cater for all incomes, widen choice and provide jobs. It’s going to provide a focal point for the town and bring wide social and economic benefits.”
Councillor Jim McMahon agrees: “It’s not just that Farmfoods has been missed, it’s the impact it’s had on local shops since the Glaisnock Centre closed. While shoppers have been at Farmfoods they’ve visited other shops. So to have a new store, twice the size, will be a big boost – shopkeepers have missed the footfall it brought and the five new shops should be a good draw too. They’re giving long established businesses and new retailers a chance to have good modern premises in a prime high street location.”
Councillor Billy Crawford added: “It’s great to see this started at last, everyone was just so keen to see it happen and with the extra space they’ll have now, I hope Farmfoods will be able to offer a great range. People don’t always see it unless we point it out, but I think there’s been a huge improvement in Cumnock, thanks to the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) projects with the renovated hotels, Rothesay House, the Town Hall, new social housing in Ayr Road, new shops and now this. And there will be more to come, the new school will be next.”
Councillor Walter Young said: “I remember when the Glaisnock Centre was being built, and it’s very exciting to see its successor taking shape. I often shop locally and now there will be more choice with a bigger store and five new shops. It’s bound to make a difference. People don’t realise how many shops there are in Cumnock, but now it’s got a focal point, I hope they’ll start to explore more. People are becoming more enthusiastic about the town and the area in general, and I notice a difference in attitude thanks to the work that’s already been done.”
Marion Gilliland, Chair of Cumnock Business Association was unable to attend but said: “I’m very enthusiastic and pleased to see this started, for the people of Cumnock – they deserve the best for the town. It will change the streetscape for the better and give a great boost to all the long established businesses that work so hard. We’ve still got issues to tackle in the town, but it’s all moving in the right direction. It’s all positive.
”In the Business Association we’ve got a great core of people who attend regularly and others who dip in. It’s not a huge commitment – just an hour every four weeks and it’s been great to invite speakers to inspire us, work with us and put our heads together to come up with solutions that will help us all. We know what we want, and working together, we’re able to get there. We’ve got around 80 businesses within the town centre, the Association lets us share knowledge, ideas and is definitely helping us create a better environment for our customers. We’re all very excited to see this development finally taking shape.”
Cumnock’s new Farmfoods store and five additional new shops will be open for business by Christmas 2018.