How regeneration is reviving Inverclyde
Above - Greenock Ocean Terminal now welcomes 60 cruise liners per annum bringing 105,000 visitors into Inverclyde
Within Scotland, few areas are lucky enough to be experiencing the level of renewal currently happening across Inverclyde. Bordering the Firth of Clyde and taking in the many coastal towns nearby, the areas long maritime, shipbuilding and industrial past has been a source of great change, but also continuity for the region.
Inverclyde is one of the first beneficiaries of the £1bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley city deal with a proposed £30m being invested in three infrastructure projects. The first proposed project includes £14m to expand the quayside at Greenock Ocean Terminal and build a state-of-the-art visitor centre to help welcome visitors to Inverclyde. Another £9.4m of the city deal will renew the port area around Greenock's historic Inchgreen Dry Dock, Britain's largest dry dock at 1,000 feet long with plans for the creation of a national renewables hub. Lastly, at Inverkip, a proposed £4m project will see improvements to the A78 to help open the site of a former power station for housing and commercial development.
A major revolution for Inverclyde was the rescue from closure of the 114-year-old Ferguson Shipbuilders - the final commercial shipyard on the lower Clyde. After the Port Glasgow business went into administration in 2014, it was bought by Clyde Blowers Capital, part of entrepreneur Jim McColl's engineering group and is now renamed Ferguson Marine Engineering. The company has since won a £97m order to build two new duel-fuel CalMac ferries and another £12.3m hybrid ferry contract and was recently voted Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce's Best Performing Large Business. As well as this, Ferguson Marine has invested heavily on site improvements and a new office facility at the shipyard which will be completed in October 2017.
Above: A CGI design of the Final Ferguson Marine Offices due for completion in October 2017
During the sale, McColl discussed plans to invest up to £65m upgrading facilities at the shipyard with a view to taking on oil and gas and renewable energy fabrication contracts. He also expressed an interest in resuming the construction of ocean-going commercial ships on the Clyde, after receiving requests to build ships bigger than current capacity would allow.
"With his big plans, the developments that Jim McColl is bringing to Ferguson's Marine in Port Glasgow heralds the re-emergence of shipbuilding in Inverclyde and, given our heritage, that is truly thrilling" says Steven Watson, president of Greenock Chamber of Commerce. "It has caused a well-deserved stir in the community."
Riverside Inverclyde, the urban regeneration company backed by Inverclyde Council, Scottish Enterprise and the private sector with support from the Scottish Government, was part of the taskforce set up to rescue Ferguson. In partnership with Inverclyde Council's economic development and regeneration team, it is leading a landmark new approach to regeneration in Inverclyde. The Inverclyde Economic Development & Regeneration Single Operating Plan also sets out a three-year plan to March 2019 to maximise the economic potential of the area with the best use of available funds.
Riverside Inverclyde chairman Gerry McCarthy said the focus on providing quality workspace and buildings to regenerate Inverclyde through more and better jobs was working.
"Riverside Inverclyde created or supported 115 jobs in the area during 2014/15, and there are over 850 people now employed by Riverside Inverclyde's tenants across our property portfolio."? McCarthy says.
"The addition of new facilities at Scarlow House, Gourock Municipal Building's, Kelburn Business Park and the refurbishment of Custom House should see that number grow more. Attracting new tenants into those facilities is one of our key objectives in 2017."
Above: The stunning refurbished Custom House completed in June 2017
Furthermore, one of Greenock's finest buildings, Custom House was built in 1818 on what was once known as Steamboat Quay - one of the first docking areas of Greenock. Riverside Inverclyde has been refurbishing the Grade A listed building since 2011 and announced its first tenant Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, which specialises in point of sale systems in April 2014 followed by PG Paper, a global Paper provider in 2015.
Riverside Inverclyde said it had recorded its highest ever occupancy figures across its active property portfolio of 93 per cent last year, with the speculatively-built Riverside Business Park one of its most successful developments. Featuring office premises, a nursery and a bistro, the park now houses over 600 employees from large global companies to small local employers.
Above: Riverside Business Park houses Global companies including IBM and Cigna Healthcare
Other developments include Kelburn Business Park in Port Glasgow, a new business park 15 minutes from Glasgow Airport capable of hosting businesses seeking space from 1,100 to 15,500 sq ft and Scarlow House Business Centre, a refurbished multi-occupancy business centre in Port Glasgow town centre, which recently announced 100 per cent occupancy. Gourock Municipal Buildings was transformed from Council offices to a refurbished multi-occupancy business centre in Gourock town centre in November 2015, offering modern and affordable business space from 161 - 738 sq ft.
Above: Kelburn Business Park offers fantastic office and industrial facilities for businesses