The long-standing problem of how to fill the large empty shops and empty flats holding back Elgin town centre will be the focus of an open meeting chaired by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.
Business owners and interested locals have been invited along to the summit later this month to discuss the key challenges that lie with regenerating the area.
Significant progress has been made in recent years, with confidence in the town’s retail heart increasing and new shops, cafes and restaurants filling empty sites.
Further work is needed, however, with some of the larger business units proving harder to bring back into use.
Mr Lochhead believes they hold the key to real and sustained success of the town.
“There has been a great deal of progress made in the regeneration of the town centre in Elgin,” he said.
“New independent shops and cafes have opened in the smaller units and have really helped to create a buzz and attract folk back into the High Street.
“Some challenges do remain however, with larger units being tougher to fill and a number of first floor properties having lain empty for many, many years.
“They are problems that constituents regularly raise with me.
“Tackling the empty shop units and looking at how we can bring first floor residential properties back into use are key to the regeneration of Elgin’s Town Centre and would bring about real economic benefits.”
Gill Neill, Chief Executive of Elgin Business Improvement District (BID) said that it is the larger vacant shops in Elgin causing the most problems.
“A huge amount and work and investment has taken place in Elgin which has been critical in helping to regenerate the city centre,” she said.
“The vacant shop rate is at its lowest for many years which is incredibly positive and has given confidence to many of the new businesses opening.
“However it is worth noting that the units that are left, tend to be the larger ones that have very high business rates, so finding businesses able to occupy them is difficult.
“The recently vacated Poundworld building, for example, has a rateable value of more than £73,000 with a liability of more than £37,000.”
The meeting will take place in Elgin at the Inkwell on Francis Place on Monday June 18.
Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start and anyone wishing to attend can contact Richard Lochhead by emailing email@example.com or calling 01343 545077.