Banff ‘on the up’ as ambitious regeneration scheme draws to a close

Rachel Kennedy outside the shop on Bridge Street, Banff
Rachel Kennedy outside the shop on Bridge Street, Banff

Banff is a town “on the up” following the conclusion of a major regeneration project, local leaders have said.

The community’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (Cars) involved the restoration of historical buildings in the former royal burgh.

More than £1 million was ploughed into it by the council, Scottish Government and property owners, with Historic Environment Scotland giving out £500,000 in grants to revamp properties.

Work is continuing to convert run-down buildings on Bridge Street into accommodation for visitors to the nearby silversmith Smiddy.

The Smiddy itself was redeveloped by the council as part of efforts to boost the town and regularly hosts classes showcasing the historic trade.

Ivy’s Emporium on Bridge Street, the former Ivy Blanchard drapery shop, was also refurbished as part of the Cars project.

It had lain empty for years after the previous owner retired in 2003 and was classed as at “at-risk” before the renovation.

Rachel Kennedy now runs the shop, after moving to Banff to run Duff House more than a decade ago, and believes the Cars scheme has been a huge success.

>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter

She said: “We want people to take pleasure from their town centres again and Cars has been part of that by improving the look of buildings.

“Shopping online may be convenient, and it’s a part of all our lives now. I sell online and today I will be sending items to customers in Germany, Mintlaw and London.

“But spending time exploring the area and enjoying the leisure aspect is something that sets towns like Banff aside from out-of-town shopping malls or shopping on the internet.

“Banff Cars has helped by acting as a catalyst to improve the appearance of prominent buildings and is helping to preserve our architectural heritage, which is very important to Banff.

“We want to see Banff bouncing back and there is a feeling that things are changing.

“I feel that Banff is on the up, but it’s important to remember that everyone has a part to play in the future of town centres.”

Banff Cars started in 2014 and has included the restoration of properties in Bridge Street, Carmelite Street and Low Street.

Local councillor Glen Reynolds said it had been good for the town.

“It’s been a significant achievement and has brought about the renovation of the town centre,” he said.

“We have ensured the money made available for it has been well utilised and I think it’s been a really, really good project. The fruits of it are now showing.

“Its been good for the town centre a good starting point for further development in Banff.”