The spotlight has fallen on Kirriemuir - its heritage, its attractions and its economy - with the latest charrette project in Angus.
Kirrie Talks is the latest design charrette in the area which is exploring Kirriemuir’s past, present and future.
The project’s top priority is to develop a long-term vision and strategy for the future of Kirriemuir town centre.
The event started on Thursday with a packed programme which brought together all sectors of the community; participants were invited to help set the agenda for the rest of the charrette and the results highlighted a number of areas the public feels should be improved.
Graham Ross, a partner with Austin-Smith:Lord - award-winning architects, experts in urban design, interiors conservation and landscapes architecture, told us: “We had a great turnout for the community networking evening event where Angus councillor Ronnie Proctor formally launched the charrette.
“This followed on from a schools’ workshop with pupils from Webster’s High and a ‘walk and talk’ discussion on traffic, transport and access in the afternoon.”
Among the issues which arose were community networking, activities for the younger generation, improving the town’s open spaces and restoring its built heritage.
Discussions took place on how best to support and strengthen the extensive network of community groups and voluntary organisations active in Kirriemuir to help to continue to improve and promote the town.
Graham explained: “This could include a community/town website and physical space in the town to showcase projects and events, and to encourage participation.
“For young persons’ activities and facilities there was discussion on what young folk would like to see in Kirriemuir; where and when. Young folk flagged up a desire to have an attractive and exciting space to host a range of exciting activities.
“There were a number of people reflecting on the success and ambition of the ‘dementia-friendly town’ and the scope to improve accessibility for those with mobility and sensory impairments.
“There was a lot of discussion about open spaces, notably the Den. Many flagged up concerns about anti-social behaviour in the Den but also recognised its potential, and reminisced about it, as a recreational park in the heart of the town. Many appreciate Kirriemuir’s location, countryside setting and easy access to nature and are keen to discuss ways to enhance the Den, the Hill, the paths and play spaces.
“The launch event heard about the achievements of the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) to date and the opportunities over the last few years of the programme.
“The charrette will be considering lessons learned and scope to continue to maintain and celebrate Kirriemuir’s built heritage and social history, including J M Barrie and Bon Scott.
“It was noted there are several vacant or under utilised buildings, including Post Office, former bank, Gairie works, and others such as Fairlie House that are surplus to the council’s requirements. The charrette will look to consider how these buildings may be adapted for new uses.”
Graham explained many of the participants spoke fondly of the importance of Bonfest and the work of DD8 Music and others to organise excellent events.
He continued: “Scope to maximise the potential benefit to attract visitors to spend time in Kirriemuir is seen as vital. There was a desire to promote Kirriemuir as a quality destination and Gateway to the Angus Glens and Cairngorms National Park. The formation of a Community Sports Hub was discussed and welcomed. There is a need to raise awareness and spread the word about what the hub is and how it works.”
The charrette programme continued yesterday (Tuesday) with a series of drop-in sessions and workshops. It will round off its three day visit today (Wednesday) with drop ins at Kirrie Connections, 5 Bank Street from 10.30 am to 1 pm; workshops from 10 am to 1 pm; drawing up time from 1.30 to 4.30 pm; drop in studio from 4.30 to 6.30 pm and a work in progress presentation from 7 to 9 pm. The design team will report back on Tuesday, September 27 at the Kirrie Connections Community Hub.