Funding has been approved to pave the way for a £4.5 million redevelopment of Greenock’s traditional high street to make it more attractive and accessible for shoppers and visitors.
Inverclyde Council is pressing ahead with the regeneration of West Blackhall Street after securing £2.1m from key partner Sustrans through their Places for Everyone scheme.
Places for Everyone is an active travel infrastructure fund backed by the Scottish Government which aims to make it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle throughout Scotland.
The council will contribute £1.9m with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) investing £250,000 and grant funding of just under £280k from Safer Walking Safer Road and Smarter Choices Smarter Places funds both managed by Transport Scotland.
Work on the £4.529m project could now begin as soon as the summer, now that funding is in place.
The redevelopment of West Blackhall Street is aimed at creating a vibrant area which is accessible for all with additional space for pedestrians and cyclists and new public realm areas with additional seating and trees to enhance the environment, whilst maintaining vehicle access.
Councillor Michael McCormick, Inverclyde Council’s convener of environment and regeneration, said: “The redevelopment of West Blackhall Street has been a long time coming but now, with the support of our funding partners and the council’s contribution, we’re able to press ahead with the work and revitalise this important Greenock Town Centre location for locals, visitors and businesses alike.
“It is a project that has many benefits, including improved transport links, greater opportunities for active travel, better infrastructure to benefit existing traders, businesses and residents and attract inward investment to support the local economy.
“Once finished, West Blackhall Street will be vibrant and accessible street to encourage visitors from near and far to discover what Greenock and Inverclyde has to offer.
“With work underway on the demolition of the nearby former Babylon nightclub to allow for the regeneration of that site and construction of the new cruise ship visitor centre full steam ahead, the council’s commitment to regenerate Greenock Town Centre is starting to bear fruit.”
As well as improving the look and accessibility of West Blackhall Street, the project is also designed to ‘future proof’ the area so that it will be compatible with more sustainable forms of transport and zero-carbon targets with a shift in focus towards pedestrian priority.
Emily Gait, Infrastructure Coordinator from Sustrans, said: “We’re excited to be working with Inverclyde Council and the local community to get this ambitious project underway.
“By opening up West Blackhall Street for walking, wheeling and cycling, this project puts the health and livelihoods of Greenock residents first, making the streets safer and more enjoyable for everyone”.
Preliminary works are already underway with upgrades to traffic lights and pavements at the Grey Place side of West Blackhall Street.
SPT chair of operations, Councillor David Wilson, said: “SPT is pleased to be supporting the council in delivering its ambitious plans for the regeneration of Greenock.
“Significant funding investment by SPT in recent years has already helped transform parts of the town centre, helping make it a much more welcoming pedestrian, wheeling and cycle friendly environment for local residents, tourists and visitors alike.
“These latest plans for West Blackhall Street are another positive step towards improving the town’s streetscape and public realm as well as improving connections with public transport and links for cruise ship visitors to the town centre.”
The project will also see West Blackhall Street opened up with existing roads layouts replaced with a single one-way system straight through from Westburn Street to Grey Place to simplify accessibility for cars and parking down one side of the street only.
Plans for West Blackhall Street have been developed following consultations with the public, residents, traders and partners.