Third of East Kilbride centre to be demolished
One of the most ambitious town redevelopment schemes would see more than a third of East Kilbride’s centre demolished to make way for homes and open air public spaces.
The plan would cut retail space by 40% in what is a recognition of the profound changes taking place in shopping and lifestyles.
East Kilbride, one of the New Towns built in the post-war era to separate traffic from pedestrians, has Scotland’s biggest undercover shopping space.
However, there are now 75 vacant units and 507,000sq ft of empty floor space that has little chance of being re-occupied.. Administrators were appointed to the centre last November after the collapse of its owner Sapphire.
The administrators from Interpath Advisory have kept the centre open and are now working with the council to develop new plans for the heart of the town.
Retailers whose units are in the areas set for demolition will be offered alternative premises within the shopping centre “where possible”.
One of the areas selected for potential demolition is Centre West – a three-level complex built between 1999 and 2001 at a cost of £90m. Despite being the newest part of the town centre it has declined since losing Debenhams, Top Shop, Zara and many more of the big high street names.
That site has now been picked for a new neighbourhood with private and affordable housing.
The new Civic Hub would have a building that could have a range of uses across the public sector, the arts and education – and a civic square as a meeting place and access point for the town centre.
David Booth, executive director of community and enterprise at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “Without strategic intervention the town centre will continue to decline and fall further behind its neighbours. We therefore need to show ambition in order to realise the town’s potential.”
The development, which is expected to suit the community for the next 50 years, would happen over several years if it gets approval.
Anthony Hubbert, from Threesixty architects, said that following the original mixed use vision for East Kilbride town centre in 1947, retail had increasingly come to dominate until changing shopping habits, primarily the rise of online shopping together with financial pressures, had led to the decline of in-person shopping.
He said: “Delivering a high-quality urban environment is key. We need to transform the shopping centre from an island in the middle of East Kilbride into the heart of the town by creating a permeable, safe and accessible environment.”
There are talks aimed at a supermarket taking over space at the current Olympia Mall entrance, and a hotel replacing the ageing entrance area near the bus station at Princes Mall. The ice rink and cinema would remain.