Kirkcudbright Harbour Square: a community endorsed plan
The Kirkcudbright Forum commissioned Willie Miller Urban Design (WMUD), Malcolm Fraser Architects and Nick Wright Planning in June 2009 to prepare a Shared Vision for Kirkcudbright Harbour Square. The purpose of the work was to produce a community endorsed plan for the site which was both practical and deliverable.
The specific requirements of the brief included:
- baseline information on current developments in the town together with the aspirations of the business and residential communities
- public and voluntary sector aspirations and resources
- design options addressing technical constraints and local planning policy
- an appraisal of local market conditions and commercial viability together with an assessment of public and third sector funding
- an appraisal of local community aspirations for the site and building these into the final design proposals
- visual presentations of what could be possible on the site, how this will fit with the town and consideration of sustainability, access and energy use in the design process
It was envisaged by the Forum that the Shared Vision would be a framework for regeneration of the site, providing a blueprint for future development and a context for the consideration of planning applications. It was anticipated that there would have to be a careful balance between the interests of local residents, the aspirations of the business community and the expectations of visitors.
The findings of the workshops held in August and October pointed towards a number of preferred approaches to Harbour Square ranging from adopting a town wide strategic approach to improvements, through a range of expensive and hard to achieve options to a more measured and prosaic approach to the treatment of the square.
The need to take a strategic approach to proposals for the square and this matched the team’s preferred strategic and structural approach to urban design. The idea that the Harbour Square consisted solely of the existing car park and the depot buildings and TIC was not considered to be taking an appropriately comprehensive view of the issues. Harbour Square is in many ways the centre of the town – it is obviously a car park and an events space but it is also a place for the community, part of the town centre, a place for business and work and a place for art and culture. In addition to this, Harbour Square is also the hub of a network of footpaths that link to music and arts venues, to shops, museums, countryside and monuments as well as along the waterfront. Many of these are within five minutes walking distance of the Square, emphasising the walkability of the town. Broadening the immediate study area to include the harbour itself, Mote Brae and critically, the full width of the streets and pavements of St Cuthbert’s Street and St Cuthbert’s Place opens up many possibilities for more comprehensive change.