12 July 2023

Minister gets an overview of significant regeneration efforts and commercial growth in Fraserburgh

Aberdeenshire Council was delighted to host a visit to Fraserburgh today (Wed, July 12) by Scottish Government Minister Joe FitzPatrick.

As Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Mr FitzPatrick was given an overview of the Council’s significant regeneration and conservation efforts before enjoying a walking tour of the town centre.

Following his arrival at Faithlie Centre, Saltoun Square, the Minister heard about the Fraserburgh Vision and Action Plan and the Fraserburgh 2021 initiative which was a winner of the RTPI (Scotland) Award 2022 and Fraserburgh’s Heritage Conservation Programme. 

Fraserburgh’s regeneration programme also helped the town win the coveted title of ‘Most Improved Place in Scotland’ in the 2021 SURF Awards organised by Scotland’s Urban Regeneration Forum. Judges said they were “really impressed” with the substantial improvements in the physical, social, community and economic future for Fraserburgh.

For several years, Aberdeenshire Council - together with public, private and third sectors and the local community - has been working hard to bring about strategic change within the physical, economic and community environments of the Broch.

The Fraserburgh Regeneration Development Partnership was formed to oversee the community-led regeneration and has played a major role in securing and developing the town as a vibrant economic and service centre.

Back in 2021 it saw the unveiling of the landmark Faithlie Centre on Saltoun Square following significant investment and redevelopment which now provides space for a range of council services and facilities for community and civic functions including the Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub whose officers provide free advice and support to businesses and entrepreneurs and a free-to-use workspace offering a range of support.

The restoration was a key project in the development of the Fraserburgh 2021 Regeneration Scheme and has been led by Aberdeenshire Council in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, among others.

Another of the priorities has been the conversion of the long-time derelict and fire-damaged former John Trail bookshop into an 11-bedroom boutique hotel which was formally opened earlier this year. The hotel project is being led by the North-East Scotland Preservation Trust and is being supported in this first phase by Aberdeenshire Council. The second phase will see the conversion of the neighbouring former Clydesdale Bank building into a restaurant and bar facility with additional rooms.

Focus on the town’s rich history continued with the creation of ‘Glover Birthplace’ - a permanent memorial to Thomas Blake Glover in the form of a Japanese-themed courtyard garden within the Conservation Area at 15 Commerce Street, with the project being made possible with the help and generosity of the landowner of the piece of ground where The Glover’s house once stood until it was bombed during WWII.

Mr FitzPatrick was also given an overview of the Fraserburgh Beach Front Masterplan. Aberdeenshire Council has teamed up with Kevin Murray Associates (KMA), a Glasgow-based award-winning spatial planning consultancy, to help develop a new vision and masterplan for the beach area in Fraserburgh. 

A wealth of well-supported community engagement has recently been undertaken to help inform the decision-making process around future improvements to the Fraserburgh beachfront. The waterfront is a much-loved asset in the town and has seen a steady increase in use over the past few years. Well known for its surfing, it is felt that more could be done in the area to support local economic growth and health and social wellbeing outcomes in the town, but without compromising the wonderful natural setting and environment.

The Minister also enjoyed a presentation on energy transition in which was highlighted a number of major renewable energy and grid infrastructure development proposals for Aberdeenshire.

He then visited Fraserburgh Harbour where he heard about the ambitious plans being developed for the next phase of investment in the harbour to ensure it can sustain its current operations and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the renewables and marine servicing sectors.

Following the visit, Aberdeenshire Council Leader Cllr Gillian Own said: “I was delighted to welcome the Minister to Fraserburgh to hear for himself about the incredible wealth of regeneration and conservation activities which have been - and continue to be - undertaken in the town. I was particularly impressed by the level of community engagement around the beachfront masterplan and I look forward to seeing what promises to be very exciting enhancements and improvements in the fullness of time.”

Banff and Buchan Area Committee chair Cllr Doreen Mair added: “Hearing about all the tremendous work which has been ongoing in Fraserburgh in recent years never fails to amaze me. From the completion of the conservation works at Faithlie Centre to the transformation of the former John Trail Bookshop and Clydesdale Bank into a boutique hotel and restaurant along with improvements to many other buildings in the area through grant funding and a missing shares scheme, the quality of workmanship and the positive impact on our community has been exceptional. The regeneration work also engendered a positive spirit into the town and led to the community undertaking their own improvement projects.”