A masterplan to upgrade Hamilton has been approved with aims to make the town vibrant.

Councillors approved an extensive plan to invest in the town centre to attract more visitors on this week at the community and enterprise resources committee.

The aim of the Hamilton Town Centre Master Plan is to reflect on the aspirations for a resilient mixed-use economy and help make the town meet the needs of 21st century living, and it sets out a context for public and private sector investment over the next ten years.

Councillor David McLachlan (Hamilton North and East) praised the plans to revitalise the town centre.

He said:  “I’d like to welcome this report, Hamilton was at one time one of the most focal points for shopping and retail but it’s been a victim of online and out of town shopping. We’ve lost major stores like Marks and Spencers, Woolworths, British Home Stores and very recently, unfortunately, Wilko. I do welcome this report and I look forward to the outcome of it.”

The strategy presents a town centre action plan which captures the priorities for Hamilton and illustrates where resources and activities should be focused.  Key sites within Hamilton which are being targeted include Keith Street Car Park, Townhead Street Car Park, Regent Shopping Centre, New Cross Shopping Centre, Duke Street Car Park, The former Bairds Department Store and Hamilton Police HQ.

The council and partners are seeking to attract a mixed use development which will support many of the council’s own strategies.

The land-use strategy will explore a range of land uses including town centre living which will support the council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan, leisure and retail and public realm green network and parking.

Development of the masterplan follows a 12-week programme with completion due in early October. The plan will remain a live document with projects and priorities evolving over time.

Councillors at the meeting welcomed the plans to progress Hamilton and the future investments that will be made in the town.

  Councillor Colin Dewar (Hamilton North and East), said: “I’d like to welcome this initial report, it’s very clear that business and community consultation were important to finalise the masterplan that ended the 12-week period.”

Councillor Ross Clark (Larkhall), questioned the correspondence between the council and the local University of West of Scotland campus and asked if there were any plans to engage more with students to attract them to the town centre.

He said: “I was looking for a bit more detail in terms of what that means and what dialogue is going on with UWS because through my experience studying at that campus for four years, the connection between the town centre and students wasn’t that strong. There wasn’t that much promotion of the town centre or businesses in town centre within the university. 

“I think there’s lots of room for improvement here, instead of maintaining existing connections. There’s all those students who could be visiting the town centre and I believe that connection, from my own experience, could be better utilised.”

The council has recently met with the university to discuss transport links from the campus into the town to capture students and get them to spend more time in Hamilton.  `