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

5.1 Located on the southern edge of the Kelvin Valley, Kirkintilloch is the administrative centre for the East Dunbartonshire local authority area. Situated approximately eight miles to the northeast of Glasgow, the town had a population of 19,900 in 2008 [8].

5.2 Historically, Kirkintilloch was an important textile centre in the early 1800s, while the completion of the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1790 made the town Scotland's first inland port. The construction of the canal led to further industrial development, in particular nickel works, iron founding and boat building.

5.3 In more recent decades Kirkintilloch has suffered from industrial decline, leading to a number of social and economic problems including unemployment, a decline in the attractiveness of the town centre, poor transport links and a lack of community and leisure facilities.

5.4 Kirkintilloch was identified as a priority for investment through a Town Centre Review in 2007. This led to the formulation of an action plan which is being taken forward through East Dunbartonshire Council's capital investment programme. The Kirkintilloch TCRF submission focuses on the delivery of specific elements of the action plan and proposes three main projects for action:

  • Completion of infrastructure works at a vacant EDC/ KI owned site in preparation for marketing as a new major retail site.
  • Demolition of the Annexe of Kirkintilloch Town Hall to allow the older main structure to come back into operational use, creating a new commercial space.
  • Public realm improvements to the Auld Kirk Museum, designed to attract visitors and tourists to the Antonine Wall Heritage Site.

5.5 These project elements are directly linked to future job creation opportunities in Kirkintilloch, and are expected to increase the number of town centre visitors and tourists.


5.6 Table 5.1 shows that there were 19,700 people in Kirkintilloch in 2009. This figure represents a decline of 7% from the position in 2001 and is a faster rate of population decline than experienced across East Dunbartonshire (3%). Across Scotland as a whole, the population grew by 3% over the period.

5.7 Over three-fifths (61%) of Kirkintilloch's population are of working age. This is lower than the regional and national averages of 60% and 63% respectively.

Table 5.1: Population

Kirkintilloch East Dunbartonshire Scotland
Total Population 2009 19,700 104,700 5,194,000
Population Change 2001-09 -7% -3% 3%
% Working Age 2009 61% 60% 63%

Sources: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates

Age Profile

5.8 Figure 5.2 shows that the age structure of Kirkintilloch is broadly similar to that of Scotland. Relative to East Dunbartonshire as a whole, Kirkintilloch has a larger share of young adults within the prime working age group of 25-49 year olds.

5.9 Older people over the age of 50 account for a smaller share of Kirkintilloch's population relative to East Dunbartonshire. In total, 17% of the local population are between the ages of 50 and 64, compared with 19% for East Dunbartonshire.

Figure 5.2: Age Profile of the Population 2009
(Source: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates 2009)

Figure 5.2: Age Profile of the Population 2009

Labour Market

5.10 Table 5.3 shows that the 2010 labour market participation levels (as measured by employment, unemployment and economic inactivity) in the regional area are generally above the national average.

5.11 Using the benefit claimant rate as a proxy for labour market participation, it can be assumed that labour market participation levels are higher than across East Dunbartonshire as whole, and in line with the national average.

5.12 In January 2010, 4.7% of all working age residents in Kirkintilloch were claiming the benefit - higher than the equivalent rates for East Dunbartonshire (3%) and Scotland (4%).

5.13 Relative to Scotland, East Dunbartonshire's workforce is better qualified. In total, 45% of the region's working age population are educated to degree level, considerably higher than the Scottish average of 34%. Furthermore, a much smaller proportion of East Dunbartonshire's working population have no qualifications at all (7%), compared to Scotland (13%).

Table 5.3: Labour Market

Kirkintilloch East Dunbartonshire Scotland
Labour Market Participation
Employment Rate N/A 75% 72%
Unemployment Rate N/A 6% 7%
Economic Inactivity Rate N/A 20% 23%
Benefit Claimants
Workless Benefit Claimant Rate 14.6% 9.6% 14.6%
Jobseekers Allowance Claimant Rate 4.7% 3.0% 4.2%
Qualifications of the Working Age Population
% WAP Qualified to Degree Level or Above N/A 45% 34%
% WAP with No Qualifications N/A 7% 13%

Local Economy

5.14 Table 5.4 shows that there were 6,800 jobs in Kirkintilloch in 2008, representing a decline of 1% since 2004. This compares with growth of 1% and 3% across East Dunbartonshire and Scotland respectively.

5.15 Just 11% of employee jobs in Kirkintilloch are based within the financial & business services sector. This is below both the East Dunbartonshire average of 17% and the national figure of 19%.

5.16 There were 700 business located in Kirkintilloch in 2008 which was 6% higher than in 2004. This was a slower rate of growth than that experienced across both the region and the nation (both 8%) over the same period.

5.17 Business density levels are the same in Kirkintilloch as across East Dunbartonshire as a whole (both three businesses per 100 population). This compares to a figure of four businesses per 100 population across Scotland as a whole.

Table 5.4: Local Economy

Kirkintilloch East Dunbartonshire Scotland
Number of Jobs 2008 6,800 24,400 2,420,400
% Change 2004-08 -1% 1% 3%
% Jobs financial & business services 11% 17% 19%
Business Base
Number of Businesses (2008) 700 2,900 181,500
% Change 2004-08 6% 8% 8%
Businesses per 100 Head of Population 3 3 4

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

5.18 Table 5.5 shows a breakdown of all jobs by industry in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire and Scotland. The public sector is the largest employer in Kirkintilloch, accounting for 35% of total employment. Kirkintilloch therefore has a greater reliance on the public sector as an employer relative to East Dunbartonshire and Scotland where the respective figures are 29% and 30%. The retail & catering sector is also relatively larger in Kirkintilloch, accounting for 28% of all employee jobs in 2008, compared to 26% in East Dunbartonshire and 22% across Scotland.

5.19 In total, 10% of Kirkintilloch's employment is located within the manufacturing sector - this is lower than in East Dunbartonshire (11%) but higher than the Scottish figure of 9%.

Table 5.5: Employment

Kirkintilloch East Dunbartonshire Scotland
Total Number of Jobs 2008 6,800 24,400 2,420,400
% Agriculture & Energy 2% 1% 3%
% Manufacturing 10% 11% 9%
% Construction 6% 7% 6%
% Retail & Catering 28% 26% 22%
% Transport & Communications 2% 2% 5%
% Financial & Business Services 11% 17% 19%
% Public Sector 35% 29% 30%
% Other Services 6% 7% 5%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

5.20 Over three-fifths (62%) of all employee jobs in Kirkintilloch were full-time in 2008. This was some way below the regional and national averages where 64% and 68% of all jobs respectively are undertaken on a full-time basis.

Business Base

5.21 Figure 5.6 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 Kirkintilloch, these employers account for a smaller share of employment (80%), when compared with East Dunbartonshire (86%) and Scotland (81%).

5.22 A greater proportion of businesses in Kirkintilloch employ 11-49 employees compared to East Dunbartonshire and Scotland. Some 17% of businesses in Kirkintilloch fall into this category, compared to the regional equivalent figure of 11% and the national figure of 14%.

5.23 In 2008, 3% of businesses in Kirkintilloch employed between 50 and 199 employees. This is broadly in line with regional (2%) and national (3%) figures. In East Dunbartonshire, 3% of businesses employ between 50 and 199 employees - identical to the equivalent Scottish rate. The percentage of businesses employing more than 200 employees is less than 1% in both Kirkintilloch and East Dunbartonshire, compared to 1% across Scotland as a whole.

Figure 5.6: Businesses by Sizeband 2008
(Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI))

Figure 5.6: Businesses by Sizeband 2008


5.24 This section provides an overview of Kirkintilloch's tourism sector, providing some assessment of the recent performance at a regional and national level.

5.25 Table 5.7 shows that the local area's tourism sector employed 700 people in 2008, representing growth of 20% since 2004. This rate of growth was faster than the across the regional area (8%) and the national area (5%).

5.26 There were around 100 tourism businesses in the local area in 2008 - a decrease of 2% since 2004. This compares to growth across East Dunbartonshire and Scotland of 2% and 4% respectively.

Table 5.7: Tourism

Tourism Employment & Workplaces Kirkintilloch East Dunbartonshire Scotland
Employees (2008) 700 2,400 215,000
Change in Employees 2004-2008 20% 8% 5%
Workplaces 100 200 19,500
Change in Workplaces 2004-2008 -2% 2% 4%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

Town Centre

5.27 Table 5.8 shows the extent to which baseline data on town centre performance was available.

Table 5.8: Town Centre Baseline Measures

Measure Specific Data Source Comment
Economic Activity
Recent Investment No quantitative data - though a description of potential investments is given
Retailer requirements for 8 operators highlighted in Retail Capacity Study
EDC Town Centre Review (2007)
Retail Capacity Study (2009)
EDC Town Centre Review could be amended to capture
No of Businesses 100 Slims Consulting
No of jobs 700 Slims Consulting
Retail Performance
Rental levels Range from £14sqft to £50sqft EDC Town Centre Review (2007)
Vacancy levels Not currently collected EDC Town Centre Review could be amended to capture
Range of shops/ services 230 Units on upper and ground floors - approx 50% are retail EDC Town Centre Review (2007)
Use and Accessibility
Parking Data on spaces not available. Qualitative description only EDC Town Centre Review (2007) EDC Town Centre Review could be amended to capture
Pedestrian Flow Only described in qualitative terms. EDC Town Centre Review (2007) EDC Town Centre update could be amended to capture

5.28 The data provided by the Council was drawn from a Town Centre Healthcheck carried out by EDC in 2007. This is expected to be updated in-house in the summer of 2011. The Council has agreed to consider ways in which to amend the measures that are captured, particularly in terms of quantification, where possible.

Linkages & Catalyst for New Investment

5.29 The case study meeting in February 2011 explored the rationale behind the three investments. East Dunbartonshire Council stressed the three projects were always conceived as part of a wider long term investment plan in the town centre, which had at its heart, the aim of re-orientating retail, commercial and civic activity around the northern end of the old main street.

5.30 At the same time, each of the projects was expected to act as a stimulus for further investment:

  • In the case of the site servicing at Glasgow Road it was expected that this would increase the likelihood of a retail investor developing a supermarket at the north end of the town;
  • The removal of the town hall was expected to create a commercial development space and create the conditions for the development of a new footpath between the town's retail and historic core;
  • The public realm work at the Old Kirk Museum was expected to increase patronage of the Auld Kirk Museum and provide a platform for further visitor related investment in the town both at the Museum and more generally around the theme of the Antonine Wall.

5.31 While the theory behind this in the application appeared simple and straightforward, the site visit and our discussion with the project staff confirmed that the reality of delivery is more problematic:

5.32 The proposed retail site is poorly located in relation to the town centre and is at the bottom of a steep slope. The size and layout of the site, along with the steep slope means it is likely to be unsuitable for a large superstore. There was a recognition that further work would have to be carried out, both in terms of site marketing and potentially further physical interventions around access to bring the site into commercial use. Responsibility for future progress with the site was expected to lie with the Local Authority but no funding had been identified to progress these elements.

5.33 The future development of the Town Hall Annex site is inextricably linked with the future of the (currently derelict) Town Hall. A local preservation group recently commissioned a feasibility study into the future of the Town Hall, which failed to identify any commercially viable uses for the building. There was recognition that future commercial development of the annex site was unfeasible until this wider issue was resolved. There was no clear timeline around when this resolution might take place.

5.34 The Council recognised that to meet the stated aspiration of creating a walkway between the town's retail core and the town's historic core, of which the removal of the town hall annex was a first step, would require further investment. This would involve a significant public realm intervention to enhance the quality of the existing footpath and the removal of an 8ft high wall currently blocking the proposed path.

Project Specific Measures

5.35 The table below highlights the project specific measures for the TCRF project.

Table 5.10: Kirkintilloch: Project Specific Measures: Overview

Objectives/ Activities Outputs Short Term Outcomes: 2011 Interim Term Outcomes: 2013 Longer Term Outcomes: 2015+ Measure In Place
The project involves:
Capital investment in a vacant Council owned site to support the creation of new retail premises
Redevelopment of town hall leading to commercial re-use
Public realm improvements at Auld Kirk Museum
Increased spend on suppliers & initial jobs related to regeneration work Supporting local construction jobs - 98 jobs Retail employment - 317 jobs Increased inward investment
Key public places are protected, publicised & accessible Town hall employment - 22 jobs Influence quality of future development
Refurbished vacant building Increased awareness & knowledge of town heritage & quality of buildings Improve retail mix/ quality & retail income Improved quality of life
Improved civic spaces for events, meeting & interacting Improved accessibility to buildings Good rental returns. Enhanced capital values/ higher density letting Enhanced visitor welcome/ experience Places where people want to live and work & which enhance their quality of life
Improved appearance of town centre Sustained use of local retail, improved business performance Locals (&visitors) perceive the town has an improved image
Increased footfall & local spend (not quantified)

Progress: Jan/Early Feb 2011

5.36 At the site visit in February 2011, progress had been made with two out of the three activities:

  • The public realm work at Auld Kirk Museum had been completed in the summer of 2010;
  • The Town Hall Annex had been removed and the space utilised as a temporary car park for town centre users.

5.37 The servicing work for the supermarket site had not been completed by February 2011, with the severe winter weather in November and December 2010 cited as the reason for a delay to planned works.


  • The project focuses on three physical investments, each of which was part of a long term plan to regenerate and re-orientate the town centre;
  • By February 2011 two elements of the TCRF project had been completed, and the final element was expected to be completed by the end of March 2011;
  • Data on town centre performance was expected to be updated through a Town Centre Health Check in 2011. The Council is considering adopting greater quantification of data to strengthen town centre monitoring;
  • The levels of employment outcomes anticipated in the original application are unlikely to be met in the short term, as the TCRF projects were seen as the initial investments in a longer term regeneration plan;
  • The timing of future investment activity remains highly uncertain in the light of current public and private property markets.

Case Study Interview Details

Main Contact Name Fraser Robb
Position Economic Development Officer
Organisation East Dunbartonshire Council
Phone Number / Mobile 0141 578 8621
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