Lord Duncan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office, visited the site of The HALO Kilmarnock yesterday to witness work getting under way on the £65 million urban regeneration project.
The UK government has provided £3.5m of funding to support the development, and the creation of a new Enterprise & Innovation Centre, to be located within The HALO Kilmarnock, as part of its UK Industrial Strategy, the detail of which was unveiled last week.
The Enterprise & Innovation Centre will foster the next generation of entrepreneurs, with strong focus on innovation, digital skills, and cyber security. Funding has also been provided by the Scottish Government, Diageo plc and East Ayrshire Council, with the remainder being sourced from private sector investors.
The HALO Kilmarnock, located on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant, is being shaped as a multi-faceted brown-field regeneration that will create an innovative, inspirational and imaginative urban park with a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter. Its low carbon, renewable deep geothermal district heating network will address fuel costs on the site and have the capability of being extended to service other areas of the community – a first for the UK. The development will also include a light manufacturing facility and key worker private rental accommodation.
The development is one of four HALO projects planned for the UK and being seen as catalysts for urban regeneration. The next HALO project is proposed for Belfast, with Wales and the North West of England to follow. It is envisaged that The HALO Kilmarnock will connect through road and rail infrastructure directly to the Northern Powerhouse, creating economic benefits across the wider area.
Backers of the HALO Kilmarnock believe that development will generate £53.6m of GDP for the Kilmarnock economy every year and contribute £65.8m to the Scottish economy annually. It is also set to create 1,400+ direct jobs and support 630 jobs in construction.
Preparatory ground works, being carried out by Advance Construction Group, have now commenced on-site and the first phase of The HALO Kilmarnock is scheduled for completion in 2019.
Lord Duncan said: “Supported by a £3.5m UK government investment, The HALO Kilmarnock is an ambitious, important development that will create jobs, grow the economy and drive innovation. The project will attract international companies to locate in the town, benefiting from the excellent transport links and a local, well-trained workforce. The HALO Kilmarnock represents marks a fresh start for Kilmarnock and Ayrshire and I hope that the project is a catalyst for further regeneration in Scotland and beyond.”
Marie Macklin, founder and director of The HALO Kilmarnock, said: “The HALO will play an important role in the UK government’s UK Industrial Strategy, to which we contributed at its consultation stage. The economic benefits of this community led development will be felt not just in Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire, but across the whole of Scotland and driving down into the Northern Powerhouse, harnessing the power of the 4th Industrial Revolution – the digital revolution.
“We welcome the UK government’s support for The HALO Kilmarnock which is a major infrastructure project in its own right and we hope that it will prove to be a catalyst for other infrastructure projects, such as the improved road and rail links that will connect it with the rest of the UK.”
Brian Whittle MSP for South Scotland Region added: “The HALO represents a fantastic opportunity for Kilmarnock and Ayrshire more widely to lead the way in the industries that are coming to define the 21st Century. I’m delighted that the UK government are leading the way in supporting the HALO. I’m honoured to have been able to help bring the HALO out of the starting blocks. It’s taken a huge amount of work by everyone involved to get to this point and I’m excited to see the project moving forward to the next stage.”