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8 December 2023

South Street vision comes to life in Elgin

Moray Council, alongside its development partners Robertson Property Ltd and UHI Moray, is sharing the vision for Elgin’s South Street at a public exhibition on Saturday 16th December 2023 between 10am and 2pm, at 118 High Street Elgin (formerly M&C).

As part of the Elgin City Centre Masterplan, with the Moray Growth Deal supporting elements of the project, the vision for the regeneration of the South Street area includes a Business Enterprise Hub, affordable housing and retail space. The recently confirmed £18.3m Levelling Up Fund for the Elgin City Centre Masterplan will also contribute to the redevelopments in the area.

The team behind the proposals intend to submit a planning application early in 2024 following feedback from the public information day on 16th December, which is a collaboration between Moray Council, RPL, UHI Moray, MADE, Elgin BID. This could see the redevelopment of South Street start in 12 months.

Several properties in South Street and Elgin High Street have been lying empty for several years, including two former toy shops and two derelict sites, formerly the Newmarket Bar and the Jailhouse nightclub. Historic maps and research show that the site was once the Victorian Market and linked South Street to the High Street. Over recent years, some of the buildings have been marketed however, no suitable regeneration projects have come forward, until now. 

RPL has released proposals to bring the area back to life and has commissioned architects, Oberlanders, to progress design concepts. The proposal includes 35-40 residential units aligned to the Scottish Government and Moray Council funded Housing Mix Delivery project from the Moray Growth Deal; an 800m2 Business Enterprise Hub, a Growth Deal project led by UHI Moray and funded by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); commercial units and high-quality public spaces with a link between South Street and the High Street.

Speaking about the project as a whole, Chair of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Marc Macrae, said: “The efforts to regenerate the town centre with these projects will see derelict buildings brought back into use generating significant footfall within Elgin and supporting businesses across Moray through the construction and operational phases.

“After so many years lying empty it’s an exciting prospect to have new life breathed into these buildings. While it’s a complex project it’ll give a new dimension to South Street and the High Street and we’re confident we’ll start to see the transformation in the next few years.

“It’s great to see such positive developments alongside the work others are undertaking on South Street, such as the Gordon & MacPhail redesign and the lane clean-ups in the area.”

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, said: “As a business founded in Elgin, Robertson has played a significant role in supporting the local economy and employment. As the development partner for South Street, we continue to support the city and be a positive contributor to its wellbeing. Sharing Moray Council’s vision, this project sees the repurposing and rejuvenation of empty buildings into a thriving hub of residential housing, commercial units, and a new space for Business Enterprise, for the benefit of the local community and beyond. 

“By transforming previously neglected areas whilst fostering community and business growth, we are embarking on a new chapter in Elgin's history. Together with Moray Council, UHI Moray and HIE, we are committed to making this part of the Elgin City Centre Masterplan a reality.” 

Wellbeing Economy Secretary, Neil Gray, said: “I welcome this development, which will help attract shoppers and activity to Elgin’s South Street area. 

“Through our £32.5 million investment in the Moray Growth Deal, the Scottish Government is supporting regional businesses and communities to build a more innovative, prosperous and sustainable economy - increasing opportunities for all.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, said: “These are exciting plans to transform and improve Elgin's city centre, to which the UK Government is investing £18.3 million levelling up funding as part of our more than £2.7 billion to level up all parts of Scotland.

“This will help to regenerate the area, restore civic pride, and attract new businesses and further investment to the region.”

The Business Case for the Business Enterprise Hub, which will promote inclusive economic development in Moray (and the wider region), by supporting the scale-up of existing small and micro-businesses, as well as providing support to start-ups, university spinouts and inward investors is being finalised. 

Robertson Property Ltd is progressing site assembly and is having on-going discussions with building owners. Moray Council and RPL are working with business owners and residents occupying the current sites.

In addition to the proposals for South Street, discussions are ongoing for a second phase of the development, which will see the former Gordon Arms Hotel site at 118 High Street, rejuvenated to provide a creative arts hub and pop-up shop. Moray Council is working with RPL and various stakeholders on a proposal that will create a vibrant hub that will foster creativity and encourage visitors to the city.

David Patterson, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI Moray, said: “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting, planned development in Elgin, not just for the rejuvenation of South Street, but as part of the wider support that the Business Enterprise Hub will provide to new start-up businesses in Moray, and to the scaling up of small and micro businesses here. The Hub will reflect the past history of this site, and will also enable this historic marketplace to become a bustling community space once more, where students, entrepreneurs and businesses coincide and where ideas can be traded and an entrepreneurial spirit flourish.”