“Accepting the charrette process and its report, is only the start, we need to consider the report as the catalyst for the next stage not a panacea for the town.”
The report from our consultants pulls together the results from the many conversations with individuals and groups during the charrette process and presents them to us in a way that enables us to take positive actions in the short, medium and longer term to improve the town.
The report does not instruct us what to do, unlike most reports of this nature, but encourages everyone to continue and build on the conversations and ideas that have been started by the process, giving us clear areas on which to focus. These ideas have come directly from what we have said about ourselves, our partners and our town. Most of these areas are small to medium sized in nature, and not grandiose solutions and large scale projects that are often seen as the solution to the wellbeing and future success of towns elsewhere, and not subsequently delivered. The approach for us is to improve our connectivity between groups within the town, and its outlying areas, progress a number of projects both physical and thematic, and build a constantly evolving and confident community network which drives the town forward. This approach fits neatly with the governments drive towards more community ownership, and empowerment.
A good community governance of the town is already in place, One Voice, a development trust, an active community council, many strong community based organisations and individuals, and businesses ready to take things forward. This is a huge advantage because what needs to get done in the town will probably have to be driven by ourselves, and how we influence the actions of others, rather than leave it to someone else to deliver.
To take the process to the next stage, we need to consider how we better mobilise, and improve connectivity and cooperation between groups to provide the drive forward on a number of fronts. The report gives us the steer, and the legitimacy for these groups to take initiatives forward, almost a mandate from the town to the community activists and leaders to take action on the towns behalf.
Accepting that the charrette process and its report, is only the start, we need to consider the report as the catalyst for the next stage not a panacea for the town. The next stage is to share the results of the report widely within the town, agree the areas we should move forward on, and who should take these forward. A special meeting of the community council will be held to help with this process. An early action will be to form a group who will be responsible for taking an overview of all the areas to be taken forward and to help ensure progress, good communication and publicity of these activities. Other groups will also need to be formed to take the projects themselves forward, and these groups may well sit within four groupings. Public Places and Spaces…the appearance of the town, The Economy….building on what we’ve got, The future of the town….scenario planning for the future and East Perthshire…..building a brand and attractions making the best of our wider assets.
The main areas that emerged from the report are as follow, although it is expected that once we get going others will emerge or evolve.
- Improve public meeting and gathering places, create a town theme/brand for signage, street furniture, litter bins, benches etc. and deliver.
- Implement better signage for attractions, famous people, things to do etc.
- Improve access for pedestrians, cyclists and change the balance towards a more pedestrian friendly environment.
- Review car parking for the town. Transfer ownership of the old “co-op” car park, provide better signage and capacity, change half hour on street parking restrictions to a hour.
- Consider traffic flow through town centre and reconsider.
- Create cycle routes around town.
- Consider closing some small streets to pedestrian only usage, and how their use could be changed.
- Promote antilittering/dog fouling strategy.
- Consider better use of the riverside and how walking/jogging/running routes can be enhanced and improve connectivity between Rattray and Blairgowrie. Have constructed two new footbridges one to the South to connect Davie Park to Welton Road and one to the North connecting Riverside Drive at the old paddling/swimming pool to Oakbank Road.
- Provide adult fitness facility. (Adult play park)
- Create town brand to reflect a visit can give a full experience, something around doing something with others. Artisans and artists, outdoor activities, the berry town, etc.
- Establish Strathmore Arts Festival (stART) as an anchor event, and build other events round it to widen its appeal and build a reputation as a not to miss event. This encompasses creating a street environment for some activity utilising temporary street closures in the town. Consider part of the town centre as Town Hub where a range of activities can take place.
- Arrange for a vacant, derelict and underused premises survey to be carried out including proposals for asset rationalisation and shared services solutions to create new community hub facilities. Possibly in the police station building where police, housing, social work, registrar, library, and other functions could operate from.
- Identify other buildings for use as a creative centre. Spaces for workshops, training, exhibition for arts, crafts and cultural sector.
- Build on established events, book festival, Breamar night, Highland Games, Community bonfire night and with greater connections between groups make these grander affairs.
- Consider a major development up stream on the River Ericht maybe in the form of something like The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Canada www.capbridge.com The gorge at Craighall would be ideal for this for example. A project like this, unique to Scotland, would provide a draw.
- Engage with PKC planners in scenario planning for the wider town, to redress the balance between many houses and people and few facilities to match. Swimming pool and leisure centre, roads infrastructure, (a new road bridge to Rattray to open economic development opportunities.)
- Need to engage with PKC and others to develop an economic strategy to encourage business to locate in the town. Identifying areas on a map won’t bring jobs to the town.
- Investigate ideas and opportunities and support for “one hour” activities. E.g. printing museum, so that the town has a few things to offer a day visitor or one staying locally with half a day to spare.
- Develop close liaison with other settlements in East Perthshire and engage in dialogue to see if an East Perthshire Partnership can be developed. East Perthshire has much to offer but has been under promoted and developed at the expense of National Parks, Highland Perthshire and other areas of Perthshire and Scotland.
Such an initiative could unlock much in terms of tourism attraction development. Branding and promotion and much increased visitor numbers.
We are at a very early stage in journey, and the report is an early milestone along the way. There is probably much more that can be considered, but our challenge is to engage in more focused discussions and coordinate our efforts to begin to deliver on these ideas to move towards a better town for everyone.
Download the full report Blairgowrie and Rattray Charrette Report 2016 (pdf 20mb)