Stranraer project could take 20 years

AN ambitious regeneration of Stranraer’s waterfront will take between 15 and 20 years to be fully implemented, the Wigtownshire Area Committee was told at a public meeting in the town on Wednesday.

Jason Syers, strategic projects manager for Dumfries and Galloway, advised the meeting that refining of the masterplan adopted by the council in 2010 was almost completed and that the next stage would be to present a more detailed design and development brief which would be used to inform planning criteria.

He said: “Rarely do you get to start a project like this with such a fantastic townscape. Because of this – and to ensure that we can encourage the very best level of investment – we must make sure that planning policy is developed which keeps development of the waterfront in scale with what is already in the town.”

Mr Syers stressed that it was essential to get things right at the planning stage, as decisions here would affect the area for more than 100 years.

He also advised the meeting that the council hoped to have a pot of around £4 million to take the project forward.

Councillor Grahame Forster praised the work carried out and said he was confident the end 
result would meet the aspira­tions of the people of Stranraer, whose views had been can­vassed in July to inform a paper due to be presented to council in the next month. He was also encouraged to hear that meetings between the council and Stena, who own the former ferry port, were at an advanced stage. However, he said it was essential work began as quickly as possible on the West Pier development to “keep hope alive” in the town.

Councillor Iain Dick agreed that development of the West Pier should be a priority and paid tribute to the £8 million investment made by Scottish Water in the area to improve the infrastructure.

While the overall tone of the meeting was positive, there was some concern from the floor about a lack of pace of the development and problems with signage. The proprietor of the North West Castle Hotel, Douglas McMillan, stressed the need to get the issue dealt with quickly. He said: “In order that the people of Stranraer have confidence in the wider regeneration project, it’s essen­tial that we see some action on more immediate issues like better signage.”

One of the first stages of redevelopment will be officially opened on Monday, October 1, when Councillor Roberta Tuckfield will cut the cord at the new Sail West shore block – providing new harbour master’s offices along with toilets, a kitchen and utility room for marina users.