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Penicuik Market © The Penicuik Cuckoo

Penicuik First Gets to Work

Following a successful establishment vote and a popular first market, Penicuik’s new business steering group is putting its plans into action.

Penicuik has become the 32nd town in Scotland, and the first in Midlothian, to form a Business Improvement District (BID), a model invented in Canada in the 1970s.

Ratepayers in the centre of Penicuik voted in favour of establishing the district by thirty votes to nine, on a 46.88% turnout. Businesses in the town’s ailing centre will now contribute a levy to fund an ambitious business plan, aimed at turning the shopping area’s fortunes around. To collect this, a new company will be formed within the next month.

Project Coordinator for the Steering Group for Penicuik First, Edward Linton-Smith, said:

The Penicuik First ballot victory is a fantastic triumph for the town centre and shows that businesses are truly willing to take charge of their future. Town centres across the country have seen the effects of inaction and are now deciding to take charge. The days of high streets lined with thriving, locally-run butchers’ shops and greengrocers are, in most cases, a romantic memory. We must bring town centres in to the 21st century to help them maintain their deserved status as the beating hearts of our communities and BIDs are the most powerful way to do just that. It is a proud day for Penicuik and it won’t take long to start seeing the difference.

Mr Linton-Smith additionally told us:

We’re delighted to see the hard work get us this far, but there’s no time to pat ourselves on the back. The real work begins now. The outgoing Steering Group is taking nominations for the new BID Company’s Board of Directors, who will then make sure we deliver the Business Plan effectively and transparently.

Included in the aforementioned Business Plan is the organisation and promotion of the town’s first regular monthly market, the first of which took place at the start of June and received wide praise from the community. Stall holders spoke of an overwhelming response from the outset, with many returning two or three times to their stockrooms to gather additional wares. Those manning the Breadshare community bakery stall informed the Cuckoo that the business had outperformed their expectations and said they would return with even more stock in July, though they hoped to find a more permanent home on Penicuik’s High Street in the near future.

Aside from the market (pictured in the gallery above), the Penicuik First Business Plan states that the group also aims to use the levy to fund works to the precinct and surrounding areas, increasing security and making the area more welcoming to tourists and shoppers. Awareness could also be brought to funding a Townscape Heritage Initiative, like that undertaken in Dalkeith, which would see the reinstatement of traditional shopfronts along the northern side of High Street. Alterations to provide a greater number of parking spaces are also planned.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights Alex Neil said,

Over the past seven years, Business Improvement Districts have played a significant role in the regeneration of many parts of Scotland, supporting economic growth and strengthening communities. 

The positive ballot result for Penicuik First BID shows local support and enthusiasm for working together to maximise opportunities for further promotion of what the town has to offer.  I look forward to hearing how the projects and activities the BID will deliver, help to grow the local economy and strengthen the community.

The chairman of the steering group, and local business owner, Michael Graham of the Studio, expressed his thanks to everyone involved saying that he was “slightly overwhelmed that we’ve all finally come together as a Community” and looked forward to making the town a better place to live. Amongst those thanked were the steering committee, who he said were to be thanked for making the “dream become a reality”. Penicuik’s local councillors Adam Montgomery (Lab), Joe Wallace (SNP) and Derek Rosie (SNP) were also praised for helping get the project off the ground. BID Scotland, the Penicuik Community Development Trust and the Business Gateway were additionally thanked for their help and advice throughout.

Penicuik First will affect every business in the town centre and those on Bog Road (Navaar Bistro and Craigiebield House Hotel). A levy will be calculated from the rateable value of the property and must be paid by all. This collective fund will then be invested in projects as decided by the Board of Directors. The District will run for five years.

The next Penicuik Market will be held in the shopping precinct between 10am and 4pm on Friday 3rd of July.