Focus is on town centre ahead of 'Rutherglen 900'

Published: Friday 10 November 2023

this photos shows a view of Rutherglen main street looking towards the town hall.

A draft Town Centre Strategy and Action Plan has been prepared to ensure Scotland’s oldest Royal Burgh is fit for the future. 

At a meeting of the council’s Community and Enterprise Resources committee this week, councillors agreed to publish a first draft of the ‘dynamic’ plan for Rutherglen town centre, following in the footsteps of similar initiatives in Hamilton, Blantyre, Larkhall and Cambuslang.

The strategy relies on close partnership and engagement between the council, the local community, local businesses and other partners to build on Rutherglen's strengths and position the Royal Burgh for the challenges of the 21st century.

Members of the public will get a chance to have their say when the draft Rutherglen Town Centre Strategy and Action Plan is made available for consultation (both online and in person) early next year. 

As the 900th anniversary of the Charter of the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen approaches in 2026, the draft plan has also been designed to support and complement a growing programme of community-led events leading up to the ‘Rutherglen 900' celebrations. 

The action plan sets out several potential strategies designed to engage with businesses and communities to tackle a variety of issues in the town centre, helping to repurpose it for the future.

Councillor Robert Brown, Chair of the committee warmly welcomed the plan, and what it could mean for Rutherglen and those who live, work and shop in the Burgh. 

He added: “Rutherglen has a strong local identity of which its people are very proud, including an iconic town hall and wide Main Street, and the local community remains supportive of its town centre and wants to see it thrive.

"Rutherglen already supports a broad range of activities including local services, café culture, an evening economy and town centre living. But we can’t change the fact that the range of issues facing town centres is broad and complex. Factors such as the economic downturn, the COVID-19 crisis, online shopping, the growth of out-of-town shopping malls, changes in retailers’ business models and consumer expectations have resulted in a decline in town centre footfall in Rutherglen as elsewhere.

“Nonetheless, supporting our town centres remains a council priority and the agreement of this draft action plan today is a significant marker of that intent. It gives the council a framework within which to work closely with local groups and organisations to achieve common goals.

"The new strategy is timely and will match the community efforts through the recently established 'Rutherglen 900' to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Scotland's oldest Royal Burgh. I very much look forward to being a part of the discussion as we approach such an important milestone in the life of the town.”

The full report to the committee and more detail from the draft plan is available on the council's website.