Hundreds of people have been getting a first hand view of the details of the ideas behind Owenstown, the custom-built town which is being planned for South Lanarkshire.
They’ve been at the public exhibition of the project this week in the World Heritage town of New Lanark, just a few miles from the proposed site for Owenstown. It is the first stage in a comprehensive public consultation process.
There’s been widespread support and enthusiasm for the project, including positive comments from MPs, MSPs and local councillors.
Clydesdale Conservative MP David Mundell said: "This is a bold and imaginative proposal which has the potential to be the catalyst for the much-needed regeneration of the Douglas Valley. I welcome the proactive consultation process which the developers have engaged in and urge everyone locally to contribute to that process''
Labour MP for Lanark and Hamilton East Jimmy Hood said it was “Inspiring, awesome…a fantastic project. The enthusiasm with which it has been received has been fantastic. ‘Build it and they will come’ is the theme in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Field of Dreams’. Owenstown is going to be our Field of Dreams”.
Karen Gillon, MSP for Clydesdale and Scottish Labour’s rural development spokesperson: “Owenstown is an ambitious and exciting concept. A new town like this would revitalise the area and have beneficial knock-on effects for the wider local economy. I back this development and I would be keen to work with Hometown Foundation to ensure it comes to fruition.”
Aileen Campbell, SNP MSP for South of Scotland: “It’s a hugely exciting and refreshing idea. It has huge implications but lots of innovative thoughts.”
Councillor Bobby Lawson, South Lanarkshire Council: “It’s a good idea and I particularly like the aspect of affordable housing.”
Councillor Beith Forrest, deputy Provost, South Lanarkshire: “It’s very ambitious and there’s been nothing like this in the area for very many years, probably since East Kilbride was created. It should be given the chance to be considered but there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Councillor David Shearer, South Lanarkshire Council: “A very interesting project and it’s important to get the balance right of a mixed community with jobs. If it regenerates the area it’s got to be of benefit”.
George Wycherley, of Coalburn Community Council: “A wonderful concept and an excellent idea but there’s a lot of hard work to be done before what’s on paper will make it on the ground. It’s an excellent project and it would be great if it came to pass.”
Veronica Liddell, an artist based in New Lanark: “I think the whole project is wonderful. I’m really interested to see there are already plans for a gallery as a focus of interest for people. I have high hopes for it.”
Details of the project were first announced only last week but already hundreds of people from all around the country interested in living there have registered on the project’s website owenstown.org
The new town will be named after the social reformer Robert Owen who improved the lives and working conditions of mill workers at New Lanark 200 years ago. In time, it will have 20,000 residents and create 8,000 jobs. It will be self-sufficient, eco-friendly and once established, it’ll be run on a co-operative basis by its own trustees, who will be elected from its residents. It will be eco-friendly – recycling its waste to produce energy for the district heating system and it will have green transport throughout the site powered by renewable sources such as wind.
The Hometown Foundation, the Scottish charity which has been formed to help create sustainable communities and regenerate rundown urban areas, and is behind the project, says there’s been great interest from potential residents, and from the business community who see opportunities not just in supplying the new town, but also locating commercial operations there
The three day public exhibition about the proposal drew more than a thousand people, including MPs, MSPs and local councillors. Many questions were raised and the general response was enthusiastic. Hundreds completed feedback questionnaires which are being analysed and we’ll produce a summary of the results in the next few weeks.