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Irvine High Street and Bank Street Regeneration, Scotland, UK

Client: North Ayrshire Council
Team: Marko&Placemakers + LA Architects + Alexandra Steed Urban

Marko&Placemakers undertook mapping and survey of businesses and developed a public realm strategy for the High Street and Bank Street to inform a series of design workshops as part of a briefing and visioning process for proposed public realm improvements in Irvine Town Centre. The findings and recommendations inform the next phase of design development of the town centre improvements, which are intended to coincide with the construction of a new Leisure Centre at the southern end of the High Street. The urban design strategy combined best practice examples with identification of key opportunities to unlock access and connectivity and attract the right mix of uses. This included suggestions for temporary interventions and programme to address issues such as empty shop fronts and cater for an increasing demand of shared spaces with flexible functionality.

Despite the challenges the businesses on High Street and Bank Street face, we encountered a wonderful spirit of enterprise, resourcefulness and resilience amongst the respondents, many of whom have long standing personal or family business connections with Irvine. They want not only to secure their individual livelihoods, but want to safeguard the future socio-economic wellbeing of the town and its inhabitants of all ages. This is a huge challenge: one that requires new business and social innovations (or ways of doing things differently). A lot can be learned from other initiatives and contexts facing similar challenges, but the primary mechanism might well be for Irvine to adopt an inclusive approach to the involvement of people in Town Centre place-making through an iterative process of collaborative planning and visioning to get people aligned and working together.