Where we were
In 2006, the Inverclyde area faced a range of challenges including:
- significant market failures in the land and property market;
- one of the fastest declining population bases in Scotland;
- a poor record of job creation with an over-reliance on large companies for employment;
- much lower economic activity than Scotland as a whole; and
- a poor quality built and physical environment.
Initially seven priority intervention areas were identified within which projects would be undertaken to address these challenges and contribute towards the ri vision to enhance the competitiveness of Inverclyde as a place to live, work, visit, invest and do business in. This was subsequently extended to cover eight priority areas with the inclusion of the Gourock Pierhead area in 2011.
What we have achieved
Since its inception, ri has made significant progress across all priority areas to meet its objectives and support the local community. These achievements have been summarised below:
Priority Area 1 - Harbours/Cathcart Street
The Harbours area is a partnership between ri, Inverclyde Council and Clydeport with early works having been carried out and the new £10M Beacon theatre and arts centre operational early in 2013 and planning permission for a development by Greene King for a bar/diner facility.
The Beacon is the primary arts venue in the Inverclyde area, hosting a range of events including music, drama, dance and visual arts. This superb new venue includes a 500 seat main auditorium, a 130 seat studio theatre, multi-purpose rehearsal rooms and a waterfront cafe bar and bistro.
ri provided financial support in the feasibility and design stages of the development and a capital contribution of £2.5M (the total project cost being £10.6M). ri has also helped to strategically manage the project with Greenock Arts Guild and provided support for initial set up and running costs for theatre management staff.
Prior to the commencement of the Beacon Arts Centre on site, it was necessary to infill the Dry Docks at East India Harbour. The infilling of the Lamont Dry Dock was completed in Spring 2010.
Cathcart Street, a key connection between the Harbours and Greenock town centre, has benefitted from investment through the Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF), funding a new public square, shop front enhancements and a new sculpture, 'Ginger the Horse', by Scottish award winning sculptor Andy Scott, which won with the global 'Ex Arte Equus' award in 2012.
The various projects contained within this priority area are intended to open up the area around the Harbours, building on the work undertaken to date and allowing for further development that protects the heritage of the site and supports existing business communities. Work undertaken in Cathcart Street has improved the physical connection between the Harbours and Greenock Town Centre, linking Priority Areas 1 and 5.
By way of background, ri brokered a development/land deal with Inverclyde Council and Peel North West (Peel) in 2008 to allow the comprehensive redevelopment of a 32 acre site at Victoria and East India Harbours to be progressed. In 2007/08, ri undertook some essential remedial harbour works to protect the integrity of the walls at East India Harbour.
Following discussions by ri with the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland (OYTS) to scope out the feasibility of their relocation to Greenock from Glasgow, OYTS moved into accommodation owned by ri at Victoria House at East Blackhall Street at the end of March 2009. Their four ships are berthed at the Greenock Harbours on a pontoon installed by ri and leased to OYTS. The organisation now employs some 10 individuals and takes 800 young people out onto the water every year (approx 50% from Inverclyde). The Spirit of Fairbridge, another sail training vessel is also berthed at this pontoon as a result of ri intervention. This project has contributed to the 'spreading the benefits' part of the ri agenda by providing access to sail training for locals and people within the wider west regional geography and well as animating the river. A facility has also been created at The Harbours for locals to use the area for mooring, as part of a community facility. There are currently 30 boats berthed there and a visiting facility is also available.
ri purchased the vacant Greenock Custom House building in January 2011, and has completely refurbished the iconic building's East Wing, with companies such as Toshiba moving in. Further works will include a similar refurbishment of the West Wing and public reception areas.
Priority Area 2 - Cartsburn/Cartsdyke
Cartsburn / Cartsdyke is a mixed use development of high quality residential properties and commercial space. Site preparation works were carried out in late in 2008 and included the removal of 20,000m3 of material to increase service capacity and provide a new site access. The material will be used as infill at James Watt Dock. Drainage improvements were carried out in the late summer of 2011. The site is capable of accommodating up to 7,500 sq.m of office development in the heart of the Greenock business district.
2.4 hectares of this prime site have been dedicated to a residential development by Turnberry Homes who developed a range of units ranging from flats to family homes.
The construction of an 80-bed residential nursing home was completed in 2009.
The area is a long term priority for ri. Key objectives include the creation of employment opportunities through the reduction of vacant and derelict land to provide superior commercial office accommodation.
Priority Area 3 - Riverside Business Park
ri has completely transformed this derelict site into a vibrant new business park.
The new Clyde View building of 2,700m2 of high quality office accommodation on this4.06 hectaresite adjacent to the A8 in the east of Greenock achieved a very good BREEAM rating, offering prospective tenants excellent environmental benefits and cost savings. Suites range in size from 84 to 195 sq.m. Completed in September 2009, the building is 100% let, creating accommodation for 272 staff.
Similarly, the adjacent Ben Lomond View building, which was completed in May 2013, is also fully let, with over 200 staff employed there.
The refurbishment of Ladyburn Business Centre began in 2008 and was completed in October 2009. The centre has become a social economy hub providing 1,200sq.m of space to key social economy organisations supported by centralised management and Gallery/conference facilities. The building also provides up to 300sq.m of studio space for local artists and creative industries. The building is currently 80% let and employs 70 people.
Work was completed on a new junction at Pottery Street in 2009 which supports the development of up to 9,000sq.m across the entire Riverside Business Park site, including Riverside Inverclyde's new nursery building (leased to the Enchanted Forest nursery group which employs 21 nursery nurses), a cafe/bistro - The Cottage, and the fully let Clyde View and Ben Lomond View office suites.
Priority Area 4 - James Watt Dock
James Watt Dock comprises 43 hectares of riverside development land. It is covered by a Special Development Area Policy within the Inverclyde Local Plan (2005). The site includes the Great Harbour, James Watt Quay, the Sugar Warehouse (known locally as the Sugar Sheds) and Garvel Island.
Following the establishment of the LLP in November 2008, the James Watt Dock LLP Board and project team has met on a regular basis to progress the redevelopment of this important site. Specific achievements include rendering the Sugar Warehouse wind and watertight - bringing it to highly popular and successful utilisation at Tall Ships 2011 event, completion of a new access road, completion of James Watt Dock Square and associated public realm and environmental improvements, as outlined below:
- Sugar Warehouse - rendered wind and watertight;
- Access road - completed in October 2010 and was key to the planning approvals for staging the hugely successful Tall Ships 2011 which saw 800,000 attend the event over 3 days;
- Enabling work - planning applications obtained and completed in June 2011;
- Public realm and environmental improvements at James Watt Square - completed July 2011; and
- A new 65 berth Marina was established during early spring 2011 and is now fully let with plans in place for additional pontoons to increase capacity.
When initially established it was envisaged that this flagship regeneration programme would create a critical mass of mixed use development, creating state-of-the-art commercial, marina and leisure facilities set alongside modern residential and retail space. Inverclyde Council has approved the masterplan in principle, allowing infrastructure and first phase works to take place - these are now completed. When the scheme was originally planned it was estimated that the whole project would be delivered over a 13 year development programming period, with a total estimated investment of £181M. However due to the economic recession, and the subsequent impact on the national and local property market, plans have had to reconsidered.
In addition to the LLP activity, Riverside Inverclyde (Property Holdings) Ltd acquired a 50% share of a site to the west of the Sugar Warehouse at a low point in the property market cycle. The site formed a key part in the hosting of the Tall Ships' Race in 2011. A controlling stake in the ownership of the site assisted berthing and associated activity for the event and allowed ri to secure a permanent access for mooring when the final development is implemented. The area has the benefit of planning consent for 78 flats or could be included in the wider Sugar Shed proposition. This will be developed when the market returns.
Priority Area 5 - Port Glasgow and Greenock Town Centres
In June 2007, ri approved a proposal to work with the private sector to redevelop a redundant retail space (the former Co-op building) in Greenock Town Centre to create 1,400 sq.m of high quality office accommodation, providing a flexible open-plan layout. Work was completed in July 2008. The accommodation has improved the general appearance of the surrounding area and boosted existing footfall in the Town Centre. The building now houses 150 jobs locally.
In October 2007, ri was instrumental in securing the refurbishment of Port Glasgow library. 265 sq.m. of the accommodation created was leased to CMAL, the asset management company of CALMAC, creating 15 high value jobs in Inverclyde.
In 2008, investment in town centres focused on masterplanning work and developed a range of projects which would improve the physical environment of both town centres and create better linkages to the waterfronts.
In late March 2009, ri took ownership of two industrial estates and some managed office space totalling 13,390 sq.m in total, (4,000 sq.m offices, 590 sq.m of workshops and 8,800 sq.m of industrial) previously belonging to Inverclyde Council. Extensive refurbishment and improved service provision has taken place at a cost of some £2.1M. Occupancy rates have been fairly high (averaging 75-80 % across the portfolio), with tenancy having increased as a result of ri investment.
In Autumn 2009, ri and its partner Inverclyde Council secured £2.32M Town Centre Regeneration monies from the Scottish Government and began to implement a range of environmental improvements, shopfront enhancements, public realm and public art projects in Gourock, Greenock and Port Glasgow. These improvement projects have been well received by the local business community.
Priority Area 6 - Riverview/Castlebank
The masterplanning and site investigation works at this gateway site were completed in 2008 to assist River Clyde Homes to advance Phase 1 of the redevelopment of the residential provision at Castlebank. Inverclyde Council has also built new playfield facilities at Parklea.
Priority Area 7 - Kelburn
Kelburn Business Park is well connected to the M8/A8, but suffered from contamination and environmental challenges preventing successful development of the site by the private sector. A 3.03 ha site at Kelburn was acquired by ri and remediation and platforming works commenced on site in late 2009 and was completed in April 2010. Riverside Inverclyde completed the build of two high quality speculative industrial units in early 2014 and a further two units will be added to the site by the end of 2014.
Priority Area 8 - Gourock Pierhead
As part of the second tranche of TCRF, ri was awarded £0.3M towards the regeneration of Gourock Town Centre. In addition to this TCRF funding, match funding was provided by ri and Inverclyde Council and projects were completed in 2011.
In 2009, Inverclyde Council Regeneration Committee approved the sale of 320 sq.m to Network Rail to facilitate the development of a new £5M railway station at Gourock. Planning permission for the station was granted in September 2009 and the new station and associated environmental improvements at the rail stop are complete. In addition Inverclyde Council has comprehensively refurbished the Gourock outdoor pool for the benefit of the local and visiting community.
ri has been working with Inverclyde Council since mid 2010 to develop a masterplan for the Pierhead and unlock the tourism and commercial potential of the area with a mixed use development to include housing, retail and leisure facilities. Inverclyde Council is utilising ri's skills to deliver their planned redevelopment of Gourock Town Centre.
Port Glasgow Industrial Estate Environmental Works
Port Glasgow Industrial Estate was created from 20 hectares of land in 1946, providing accommodation to a significant number of large companies and providing a high level of local jobs. The estate has declined and now suffers from a number of challenges, with vacant units arising from industrial closures and substandard infrastructure investment.
There are a number of successful manufacturing companies on the estate that wish to expand on the industrial estate, but due to the lack of security they are reluctant to invest their own capital. ri has invested £181,000 with Inverclyde Council SOA monies in the estate carrying out environmental works, contributing to the safeguarding of existing jobs and the sustainable development of the industrial estate.
ri works closely with partners in exclusively utilising a local Employment Intermediary (Inverclyde Community Development Trust) to deal with vacancies created as a result of ri's interventions, recruit the appropriately skilled local people and provide necessary aftercare to them. From 2008/09 ri, working with contractors for its projects at Riverside Business Park, The Harbours, James Watt Dock and Greenock Town Centre, has created over 40 employment opportunities for local new entrants and long term unemployed construction workers.
Local Construction Forum
Working with Greenock Chamber of Commerce and Inverclyde Council, ri initiated Inverclyde Construction Forum in September 2008. Its ethos, purpose, expectations and credibility were firmly established during ri's leadership throughout the proceeding months, during which time the template for frequency and format of the meetings was determined i.e. breakfast meetings (guest speakers and tender opportunities) and seminars.
However, ri had the foresight to evolve the forum into a more active and less passive community and worked to transition the forum from being seen as 'Riverside Inverclyde's construction forum' into an independent, formally constituted body, with registered members and run by a nine person Steering Committee representing a balanced cross-section of the industry and the community. This transition was successfully concluded by a full ratification at Inverclyde Construction Forum's (ICF) first AGM in January 2010. This was a major step forward in both the sustainability of ICF and the commitment and ambition of the local community towards economic growth self-determination. Riverside Inverclyde, along with River Clyde Homes and Inverclyde Council, are permanent members of the Steering Committee which is chaired by a local businessman. Unlike other Local Construction Forums in Scotland, ICF does not have a funded full-time resource, but is run on an entirely voluntary basis by the goodwill of the Steering Committee, for the benefit of the construction-related industry in Inverclyde. This clearly demonstrates ri's successful approach in working with the community to stimulate economic growth potential in the area.
ICF aims to improve the competitiveness of its membership, encourage company development and thereby enhance members' potential for winning new contracts. This aids economic growth in the area. leading to an improved and sustainable local construction sector.
Inverclyde Construction Forum is a good example of the public and private sector working closely to maximise the benefits of the investment for the local business community.
Community Benefits Programme
Riverside Inverclyde's approach of 'going for growth' by maximising new and existing opportunities for the area and 'spreading the benefits of growth' for the business and residential communities of Inverclyde is confirmed by ri's activities in relation to community benefits. Since adopting this approach in 2008, ri has continually evolved its approach seeking to become the benchmark for maximising opportunities for local people and local companies. Specific examples from our Agreement for Targeted Recruitment and Training include:
- Formalising our Agreement for Targeted Recruitment & Training as a condition of contract;
- Increasing to a benchmark minimum of 10% of person-weeks to be delivered to local new entrants to construction;
- The innovative introduction of 'goodwill' clauses seeking contractors to actively and competitively consider members of Inverclyde Construction Forum (ICF) as subcontractors;
- Contractors requested to evidence such consideration, with shortcomings identified to ri for incorporation into an Inverclyde Construction Forum workshop to enable standards to be raised;
- Increasing the weighting of the evaluation of community benefits submissions in tenders to a landmark 15% of the total score;
- Mandatory briefings for shortlisted contractors on method statement requirements and scoring;
- Creating parameters that every contract with a minimum of 3 months' duration and a minimum value of £1M must have community benefits applied (applied if practical for £0.5M+); and
- Establishing a 3 step partnership approach to delivery (ri, Inverclyde Council and Inverclyde Community Development Trust).
In addition to those local community benefits and construction forum interventions above, just some of the activities ri has been involved in over the period include:
- The setting up of Inverclyde Renewables Alliance Group in 2009 as a public/private partnership seeking to develop, enhance, market and promote Inverclyde as potential mobile investment location for the Offshore Renewables business sector;
- An innovative partnership between ri, Inverclyde Council, Inverclyde Community Development Trust and tenants and landlords of Port Glasgow Industrial Estate saw 22 trainees being employed in a programme of environmental improvement works;
- Diverse groups such as Greenock Central Residents' Action Group and Greenock Burns Club have benefitted from engagements with ri in progressing projects seeking lottery funding to design and create a playpark and restore Highland Mary's monument respectively;
- Initiating and supporting the presence of Ocean Youth Trust Scotland in Inverclyde has enabled greater opportunities for local youths to benefit from OYTS's residential sail programmes tailored to their ethos that all young people, regardless of circumstance or ability should have the opportunity to realise their true potential in order for them to live healthy, fulfilling lives - making a positive contribution to their community and to society in general;
- A sports' grant fund that encouraged the physical wellbeing and physical activities of Inverclyde's youth; and
- Supporting initiatives to deliver a positive economic impact in terms of businesses developed and jobs created e.g. working with the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust in supporting a programme to assist the creation of new businesses in Inverclyde; and also encouraging emerging and growth businesses in the area via Greenock Chamber of Commerce's Bee's Knees Awards, demonstrating that Inverclyde has an increasingly vibrant and diverse business community that can be harnessed and exploited to stimulate the economic regeneration of Inverclyde.
A range of marketing initiatives have been taken forward beginning with an extensive signage campaign, advertorials in the local and national press and ongoing communications with a variety of community groups.
Targetted events have included:
- Promoting the ongoing development of an energy and renewable proposition for Inverclyde;
- Sponsorship of the 2009 Small Ships Race and 2011 Tall Ships;
- Sponsorship of the Greenock Chamber of Commerce Bee's Knees Awards;
- Supporting organisations and programmes from The Prince's Scottish Young Business Trust to The Recruit;
- The creation of the Inverclyde Youth Sports Fund, supporting a broad range of youth activities, with 39 activities supported in 2009; and
In relation to promoting Inverclyde's Energy and Renewables proposition it is worth mentioning that ri has exhibited at 12 major sector events between 2010 - 2012, has advertised in all of the sector's major publications, has secured high profile advertising placements in The Times, advertorials in a number of publications (including World Class Scotland), distributed over 1,500 brochures and 4,000 DVD's and has sponsored high profile events by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables, resulting in Inverclyde being well positioned for west coast mobile investment consideration by the market.