Case study: Number 30 The Square
What is the history of the building, monument or area?
The Number 30 project, run by Huntly Development Trust (HDT) involves the refurbishment of a large, listed former department store of over 1250sqm into a multi-use community-owned and managed facility with a café, a cinema/performance space, a co-working facility, learning and training space and a gallery which can be subdivided suiting multiple uses and with a retail space.
How did the project begin and what community need(s) was it seeking to address?
Huntly town, seeing that the town was experiencing a decline, and knowing that it had many positive elements on which to build, commissioned a town strategy to be developed between 2018-2019 (the Room to Thrive strategy). Through this, the community voiced their priorities for the future and set a ‘to-do’ list of which town centre regeneration through community ownership featured as a priority.
How did you source funding and support for the project?
Funding has primarily come through a combination of Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant and the Place Based Investment Programme. In addition to these main two funders, grants have been awarded through Foundation Scotland, Clashindarroch windfarm, Transport Scotland and HDT’s own funds.
How did the project progress from inception to delivery? What obstacles did you overcome and what were the major milestones?
The timescale from securing funding, appointing and going through the Design Team Stage to having contractors on site has been quite short – just two years. However, at Tender stage we experienced what could have been a significant barrier as the national increase in material costs impacted the contract value very significantly. Our funders were very understanding, and the incredible support given to this project by Aberdeenshire Council enabled an additional funding to be achieved to enable the project to proceed.
How did you involve the community in your project?
Over and above the community involvement through the strategy work, HDT is a member-owned organisation, so local people have been heavily involved. In addition, a group of volunteers work with us on developing the future uses of the building and during 2022, a new operating model will be developed that will ensure that this facility will be both community owned and managed in the future.
What has been the impact of the project on the community?
As the refurbishment programme runs until February 2023, the impact will not be fully known until its operating, however, having a building of this size and prominence in the town centre being very visibly refurbished, and with the benefit of numerous streams of communication circulating through our local community means that people are experiencing hope for the future of the town and its residents.
What’s next for your project?
This year, HDT are also refurbishing a new home for our Green Travel Hub next door to No.30 and hope to look at further town centre capital projects in the future to offer more opportunities to the local community over time.