Town Centre Regeneration: TCRF Case Studies Report

The report presents findings of research undertaken in nine case study areas that received funding from the Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF). The report highlights baseline measures for monitoring town centre regeneration activity relative to each case study. The report is one of four publications produced by this research.


Context and Background

3.1 As the largest town within Moray, Elgin is the administrative and commercial centre of the local authority area. The town had a population of 21,000 in 2008 [5], and has an estimated catchment area of around 100,000 people who are attracted to the range of administrative, service, retail and business services available [6].

3.2 The town's large catchment area places it in competition with other regional retail and commercial centres in Inverness and Aberdeen. Therefore, the need to retain a competitive position in this context is a key aspect of local economic development policy. This is reinforced in the Moray Local Plan (2008) which affirms that the town will be the primary focus for future economic development and investment activities, while at the same time a range of 'secondary' towns within the local authority area will also be supported.

TCRF Project

3.3 The concept of the Moray Towns Together TCRF project emerged from Moray Council's strategic approach (see Figure 3.1 below) to enhance the main towns as the economic drivers of the region.

  • The project comprises a number of streetscape improvements aimed to make the town centre more accessible to all. These include 'iKiosks' and information points located in car parks;
  • The attractiveness of the town centre will be improved by a shop front improvement scheme, streetscape improvements, the purchase of a chewing gum removal machine and street cleaning machine;
  • More events will be attracted to the town centre by refurbishment of town centre events facilities;
  • The project is linked to the development of the Elgin Business Improvement District ( BID) and Moray Towns Partnership ( MTP).

Figure 3.1: MTPTCRF Projects
(Source: TCRF Application Form)

Scheme Location arrow Outcomes
Street Cleaning Machines E
East End Streetscape upgrade E Increase in footfall in the town centres (+5%)
Plainstones electricity supply upgrade E Decrease business vacancies by (-7)
Gateway to the Centre E Indirect job creation (+14)
Shop front Improvement Scheme E, F, B, L Direct job creation (+1)
Electronic Tourist Information points E, F, B, L On the job training for 12 unemployed people
Upgrade to Station Park L Improved events capacity (Elgin, Forres & Lossiemouth)
CCTV - James Square & Station Park L
Information Boards L, F

E = Elgin;
F = Forres;
B = Buckie;
L = Lossiemouth

3.4 Evidence suggests that the main towns in Moray are overshadowed by the major cities and retail outlets of Aberdeen and Inverness. By improving attractiveness and accessibility it is hoped to increase the competitiveness of the towns.

3.5 The overall aim of the project is to support local economies by creating and sustaining jobs and promoting Moray's towns as the economic drivers for the region.

3.6 Moray Council is supporting the development of the Elgin BID and Moray Towns Partnership as part of a wider economic development strategy. The project has overarching social, economic and environmental drivers (comments specific to Elgin are noted below):

3.7 Economic - to increase footfall in the town centre by enhancing its appearance with streetscape improvements and by providing information boards. To attract more events by ensuring the necessary facilities are in place. The improvements are also aimed at reducing vacant shops in the town centre and to address the leaked retail spending to Inverness and Aberdeen.

3.8 Social - by increasing footfall and decreasing business vacancies the projects aim to create and secure jobs in the area, helping to tackle local issues of youth out-migration and low wages.

3.9 Environmental - the project will improve the streetscape of Elgin and make the environment cleaner and safer.


3.10 Table 3.2 indicates that the population of Elgin in 2009 was estimated to be 21,200. This represents a decline of around 1% since 2001. In the same period, the population of Moray increased by 1%, below the Scottish average of 3%.

3.11 60% of Elgin's population are of working age: this is also the case for Moray. These levels are lower than the national average of 63%.

Table 3.2: Population

Elgin Moray Scotland
Total Population 2009 21,200 87,700 5,194,000
Population Change 2001-09 -1% 1% 3%
% Working Age 2009 60% 60% 63%

Sources: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates

Age Profile

3.12 Figure 3.3 shows that the age structure of Elgin is almost identical to that of Scotland. There is no difference in the over 25 categories and a difference of 1% in both the 0-15 and 16-24 categories.

3.13 By comparison, Elgin has a slightly lower proportion of those of working age and a larger percentage of those of retirement age.

Figure 3.3: Age Profile of the Population 2009
(Source: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates 2009)

Figure 3.3: Age Profile of the Population 2009

Labour Market

3.14 Table 3.4 shows that the 2010 labour market participation levels (as measured by employment, unemployment and economic inactivity) in the regional area are well ahead of the national average.

3.15 Using the benefit claimant rate as a proxy for labour market participation, it can be assumed that labour market participation levels are slightly lower in Elgin than Moray as a whole. However, they are still well ahead of Scotland.

3.16 In January 2010, 2.7% of all working age residents in Elgin were claiming the benefit. This is below the Scottish average rate of 4.2%.

3.17 In comparison to Scotland, Elgin's workforce is less well qualified. 27% of the region's working age population are educated to degree level, considerably lower than across Scotland as a whole (34%). However, a lower proportion of the population have no qualifications, 10% as opposed to 13%.

Table 3.4: Labour Market

Elgin Moray Scotland
Labour Market Participation
Employment Rate N/A 78% 72%
Unemployment Rate N/A 5% 7%
Economic Inactivity Rate N/A 18% 23%
Benefit Claimants
Workless Benefit Claimant Rate 11.2% 10.2% 14.6%
Jobseekers Allowance Claimant Rate 2.7% 2.8% 4.2%
Qualifications of the Working Age Population
% WAP Qualified to Degree Level or Above N/A 27% 34%
% WAP with No Qualifications N/A 10% 13%

Local Economy

3.18 Table 3.5 shows that there were approximately 15,000 jobs in Elgin in 2008, representing an increase of 4% since 2004. This increase was greater than Moray as a whole and 1% above the Scottish rate of 3%.

3.19 Only 8% of employee jobs in Elgin are based within the financial & business services sector. This is in line with the regional average, but well below the national average of 18%.

3.20 There were 900 business located in the local area in 2007, representing a 10% increase since 2004. This growth rate was in accordance with Moray but ahead of Scotland. In comparison with regional and national averages, Elgin has a higher business density rate. In 2008, there were five businesses per 100 of the population in the town. This was above the regional average of three per 100 of the population as well as the Scottish average of four per 100 of the population.

Table 3.5: Local Economy

Elgin Moray Scotland
Number of Jobs 2008 15,000 34,000 2,420,400
% Change 2004-08 4% 1% 3%
% Jobs financial & business services 8% 8% 19%
Business Base
Number of Businesses (2008) 900 3,200 181,500
% Change 2004-08 10% 10% 8%
Businesses per 100 Head of Population 4 4 4

Source: Annual Business Inquiry & ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates

3.21 Table 3.6 shows a breakdown of all jobs by industry in Elgin, Moray and Scotland. The service sector is by far the largest employer in Elgin and accounts for a larger share of total employment when compared with Moray and Scotland. For example, retail & catering accounts for 27% of all jobs in the town, compared with 25% in Moray and 22% across Scotland as a whole.

3.22 Levels of manufacturing activity are above the Scottish average in Elgin, with the sector accounting for 12% of all jobs in 2008 compared to 9% in Scotland. This sector in Moray is again higher with a proportion of 17%.

Table 3.6: Employment

Elgin Moray Scotland
Total Number of Jobs 2008 15,000 34,000 2,420,400
% Agriculture & Energy 1% 2% 3%
% Manufacturing 12% 17% 9%
% Construction 6% 7% 6%
% Retail & Catering 27% 25% 22%
% Transport & Communications 3% 4% 5%
% Financial & Business Services 8% 8% 19%
% Public Sector 38% 33% 30%
% Other Services 5% 5% 5%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

Business Base

3.23 Figure 3.7 shows the profile of the business base in terms of sizeband in the local area, relative to the regional and national areas. It shows that the vast majority of businesses across each of the areas employ between 1-10 people. In Elgin, these employers account for smaller share of employment (75%), when compared with Moray (81%) and Scotland (81%).

3.24 On the other hand, businesses in Elgin with between 11 and 49 employees account for around 20% of all businesses in the area - above the regional and national averages of 14%.

3.25 In Elgin, 4% of businesses employ between 50 and 199 employees, above the Elgin rate of 2% and the Scottish rate of 3%. Both Elgin and Scotland have 1% of businesses employing 200 or more employees.

Figure 3.7: Businesses by Sizeband 2008
Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI))

Figure 3.7: Businesses by Sizeband 2008


3.26 This section provides an overview of Elgin's tourism market, providing some assessment of the recent performance at a regional and national level.

3.27 Unfortunately, it is not possible to use the data zone definition to look at the tourism market in Elgin and so this section looks at the 2003 CAS wards.

3.28 Table 3.8 shows that the local area's tourism sector employed around 1,200 people in 2008, representing a decline of 19% since 2004. This rate of decline was faster than the regional area (-15%) and against the national trend of Scotland (+5%).

Table 3.8: Tourism

Tourism Employment & Workplaces Elgin Moray Scotland
Employees (2008) 1,200 3,200 215,000
Change in Employees 2004-2008 -19% -15% 5%
Workplaces 100 400 19,500
Change in Workplaces 2004-2008 3% 1% 4%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

Town Centre

Table 3.9: Town Centre Baseline Measures

Measure Specific Data Source Comment
Economic Activity
Recent Investment 34 building warrant applications
60 planning applications
(2009 data)
Council / BID Data covers BID area which doesn't exactly match defined town centre.
No of Businesses Not analysed - Detailed data from BID business plan or occupancy level of 435 properties.
No of jobs - - Data not available as town centre is smaller than a single electoral ward.
Land use by type - - Other than BID data on use or local plan this is not available.
Retail Performance
Rental levels £35 - £37 per sq.ft Zone A TCHC First Town centre Health Check done in 2010
Vacancy levels 15 properties: 6.4% Council BID TCHC First Town centre Health Check done in 2010
Range of shops/services 98 comparison
24 convenience
44 retail service
70 leisure service
46 financial & business service
9 health and medical
6 public service
4 religious service
45 general office
vacant 15
TCHC First Town centre Health Check done in 2010
Use and Accessibility
Parking AM 38% usage
PM 40% usage
Moray Council Council surveys 10 car parks. Data shown is for St Giles in March 2010.
Pedestrian Flow Average flows for Sat 18 September 2010
Point A - 618
Point B - 199
Point C - 1,335
Point D - 3,595
Point E - 720
Point F - 693
TCHC First Town centre Health Check done in 2010

Linkages & Catalyst for New Investment

3.29 Moray is strongly affected by competition from Aberdeen and Inverness and both have benefited from significant recent investment. With a highly mobile population in Moray, the two represent a strong draw for comparison shopping, in particular. As the main commercial and retail centre in Moray it is critical that Elgin has a clear role that acknowledges its position in the retail hierarchy, both within Moray and beyond. This role is supported through robust policy and measures to retain expenditure and capture new development.

3.30 The significant contribution made to the local economy by RAF Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth also has to be acknowledged. An announcement in 2005 concerning rationalisation and resultant job losses at these bases reinforced the importance of the public sector taking a proactive stance on economic development initiatives to underpin the long term sustainability of the local economy. This also gave a signal to the private sector that intervention will occur. At the time of writing, there is continued uncertainty concerning the future of the RAF presence: it has recently been announced that RAF Kinloss is to be closed and the future of RAF Lossiemouth remains uncertain.

3.31 The project is backed by Business Gateway and Highlands & Islands Enterprise ( HIE). The project is also linked to Elgin City of the Future, an initiative that is looking to co-ordinate a number of substantial capital development projects for Elgin over the next 10 years. A consultant team has recently been appointed.

3.32 As part of the shop improvement scheme the owners had to pay 50% of the costs themselves. It is also hoped that the town centre improvements will attract more farmers & international markets as well as other events. It is anticipated that more retailers will be attracted to Elgin and that these will attract more shoppers to the area. These objectives fit with Elgin 'City of the Future' ambitions.

3.33 David Urquhart (Chair of Elgin BID) believes that the TCRF funding was critical to the Elgin project. Already, BID members consider that there has been an improvement in the town centre and furthermore, there is confidence from business owners that the Elgin BID is worthwhile and can achieve results.

Project Specific Measures

Table 3.10: Project: Elgin: Performance Indicators

Objectives Performance Indicators Gathered/available:
Before & After
The overall aim of the project is to support the local economy by creating and sustaining jobs and promoting Elgin as an economic driver for the region. The project will improve the attractiveness and accessibility of the town centre. Increase footfall TC Health Check
Increased retailers' turnover BID
Reduced retail leakage Retail Capacity Study
Increased units in retail use TC Health Check
Improved visitor perception of town centre TC Health Check
Improved resident perception of town centre TC Health Check
Improved perception of town centre TC Health Check
Increased events in TC Moray Council
Increased use of Parking Moray Council
Vacancy Levels TC Health Check

Addressing Theory of Change

3.34 The table below summarises the review of outputs and outcomes using the emerging Theory of Change (public realm, accessibility and townscape model).

Table 3.11: Elgin: Project Specific Measures: Overview

Objectives/ Activities Outputs Short Term Outcomes: 2011 Interim Term Outcomes: 2013 Longer Term Outcomes: 2015+ Measure In Place
The overall aim of the project is to support the local economy by creating and sustaining jobs and promoting Elgin as an economic driver for the region. The project will improve the attractiveness and accessibility of the town centre.
Purchase of chewing gum and street cleaning machine Improved environment and appearance of Elgin TC Additional jobs Enhanced visitor welcome/ experience.
Enhanced sense of local civic pride
Increased footfall and local spend TCHC
Shop front improvement scheme Retail facilities fit for purpose
Enhanced capital value
Increased range and quality & competitiveness of local retail facilities Increased footfall and local spend
Increased confidence in business community
Sustained use of local retail
Reduced use of out of town shopping & related car trips
Survey (due to be completed in March 2011)and TCHC
Signage strategy including orientation boards Key public places are highlighted, publicised and accessible Increased awareness of town centre attractions and town heritage Sustained use of local retail and improved business performance
Refurbishment of TC event facilities/ electricity supply Improved space for meeting and interacting Locals and visitors use Elgin Town Centre more
More events attracted to TC
Increased footfall and local spend
Increased social interaction
MC monitoring number of events
Number of hits on Tourist Information Points
East end project Improved environment Enhanced visitor welcome/ experience
Enhanced sense of local civic pride
Increased footfall and local spend TCHC
A96 underpass Safer and more pleasant environment Increase of perceived safety Less anti-social behaviour, enhanced safety Crime data

Progress: Jan/Early Feb 2011

3.35 Progress of the Elgin project at January 2011 was as follows:

  • The project was largely completed in May 2010. This was slightly behind schedule as a result of working through the winter months and some delays by BT.
  • The completed project works include: electricity supply fitted in the Plainstones area; environmental improvements at the east end, northern gateway and western gateway. The installation of Electronic Tourist Information Points, signage and street furniture. The shop front improvement schemes have also been completed.


3.36 The Elgin project was part of the wider TCRF scheme Moray Towns Together.

3.37 The project was completed slightly behind schedule and under budget. The successful execution of the project was due largely to the time and effort put in by Moray Council.

3.38 There has been very positive initial feedback. Some unanticipated developments that have occurred as a result of the project are below:

  • Due to the popularity of the shop front improvement scheme the newly formed BID took the decision to offer a similar scheme to interested BID members who missed out on the shop front improvement scheme;
  • Royan Butchers benefited from the shop front improvement scheme and also from streetscape improvements at Batchan Lane. The owner of the shop wants to develop an interactive multi media display at Batchan Lane to compliment the heritage theme of the murals already installed;
  • The gateway improvements at the A96 underpass lead to an art project which allowed school children to choose their favourite design from short-listed designs for the public art installation in the underpass. As the school children were directly involved it is hoped that this will stop graffiti;
  • The newly formed BID has benefited greatly from the TCR project. There is now a feeling that the BID can have a positive impact on businesses located within the town centre and achieve favourable results;
  • Potential partnership for Elgin City Centre Heritage Trial.

3.35 The Elgin TCR team felt that it would have been of benefit for the project if the Scottish Government had:

  • Allowed a longer timescale for the application period. This would allow for community consultation to be done on proposals and allowed new proposals to come forward;
  • Not to have the development period over winter as the weather lead to project delays.

3.39 In terms of monitoring the TCRF project an annual town centre health check is now in place.

Case Study Interview Details

Main Contact Name Reni Milburn
Position Principal Development Officer
Organisation Moray Council
Phone Number / Mobile 01343 563425
Other Contacts:
Name David Urquhart
Position Chair of Elgin BID
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