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The crucial next step in Falkirk Council’s journey to deliver economic growth through its transformative £140m Falkirk Growth Deal could be taken at a meeting of the Executive next week.

On March 5th, Councillors will be asked to approve the submission of the full Falkirk Growth Deal document. This is a comprehensive plan that lays out how the Council will manage and deliver the 10 projects and Greener Grangemouth programme that make up the Deal.

Funded projects include the new Falkirk Town Hall, the creation of Scotland’s Canal Centre at Lock 16, a new Art Park for the area, an upgraded Rail and Transport Hub at Falkirk Grahamston along with a Green Cycle and Pedestrian Network.

There will also be a Skills Transition Centre at Forth Valley College to teach the skills needed for moving to Net Zero, the transformation of unused land into sites ready to support industrial growth, a new sustainable manufacturing campus to support modern biotechnology and advanced uses for carbon dioxide.

A Transport, Renewables and Career Exploration Hub will be established in partnership with Forth Ports, and a Greener Grangemouth project to use £12m to help the local community benefit from the transition to Net Zero.

If agreed by Councillors, the document will be submitted to the UK and Scottish Governments, with the Council anticipating all parties will sign the final agreement by the end of June. That would allow projects to get underway and start to release £80m worth of government capital funding needed to deliver the deal together with £12m revenue funding for Greener Grangemouth. The first projects are hoped to get underway in July 2024.

The Council believes the ambitious timeline signifies a shared commitment to deliver on the promises made by the Growth Deal over the coming decade. These promises include job creation, improving local infrastructure, and economic diversification, all underpinned by a commitment that would see communities benefit equally from the deal.

Malcolm Bennie, Director of Place Services, said: "The Falkirk Growth Deal is a commitment by Falkirk Council, and the Scottish and UK Governments to both economic revitalisation, a greener future and the wellbeing of our local communities. It’s an exciting new chapter in Falkirk’s story, highlighting the power of collaboration between central and local government, higher education, the public sector and business to deliver a shared vision for a brighter future for all.

“The project promises to bring new high-tech and green industry to the area, create an improved transport network, open up training opportunities for young people to launch rewarding careers, regenerate our canals, support the renewal of Falkirk Town Centre, and ensure Grangemouth and its community sees the benefits of supporting one of Scotland’s most important industrial zones.

“It is now for Councillors to decide if the proposals represent the best way forward for the area and if they do then our team will hit the ground running to start delivering this vision to bring real and tangible benefits to everyone in the Falkirk area."

Falkirk Growth Deal Projects

The projects that make up the Deal sit under two themes:

Creating Great Places

Image of Calendar Square Shopping Centre, the site where the new arts centre will be built.

  • The Falkirk Arts Centre: £6 million will be allocated to the construction of a new Arts Centre on the site of a largely vacant shopping centre, Calendar Square (pictured). The Arts Centre aims to totally transform the high street and help address declining footfall and spending. It will serve as a dynamic venue for cultural and community activities, featuring a 550-seat auditorium, shared studio spaces, a library, a café-bar, and an advice hub.
  • Scotland’s Canal Centre: Led by Scottish Canals, the canal centre project will revitalise a neglected area of the canal network by restoring three derelict warehouses at Loch 16 on the Forth & Clyde Canal. As part of the £7.7m project (£4m from the Deal), a new operational hub will be built featuring areas for collaborative work, flexible educational and event spaces, and improved access to the surrounding area, which will be designed in collaboration with the local community.
  • Scotland’s Art Park: Working in partnership, Scottish Canals and Falkirk Council will use £3 million from the Deal to create an Art Park along the Forth and Clyde Canal. The trail will connect key sites across Falkirk, bringing to life an under-utilised canal corridor. The Art Park masterplan will focus on leisure, culture, active travel, and enhancing natural assets.
  • Falkirk Central Sustainable Transport Network: By improving public and active travel infrastructure in and around Falkirk, two interconnected projects will support local demand for better travel options. The Rail Station Interchange (Hub) project will see Falkirk Grahamston renamed Falkirk Central and £9 million will be invested to enhance the rail station and create a new interchange ('Hub') for sustainable transport. The Green Cycle and Pedestrian Network project will support the Hub using £12m to create a new cycle and pedestrian pathways that connect communities and promote active travel.

Innovative Industry

Aerial image of Grangemouth including Inchyra Park

  • Skills Transition Centre (STC): Led by Forth Valley College, the project will establish the STC, bringing together partners to develop the skills needed to support the transition to Net Zero. With £4m investment, the STC will support emerging sectors and transitioning industries by providing state-of-the-art equipment and specialist resources like virtual reality, simulation, drones, digital classrooms and immersive spaces alongside a 10-year skills development programme.
  • Strategic Sites: Addressing a shortage of development-ready strategic investment sites, the project will use £10 million to improve and prepare currently unused land at potentially three key sites in a bid to attract investment in innovation-based uses and addressing the broader need for investment in Grangemouth’s core industrial sectors.
  • Grangemouth Sustainable Manufacturing Campus (GSMC): The GSMC includes two linked projects: the Bioeconomy Accelerator Pilot Plant (BAAP) and the Carbon Dioxide Utilisation Centre (CDU). BAAP will use £10m of funding to set up a hub for modern industrial biotechnology, fostering collaboration among industry, academia, and government to support industrial decarbonisation. Another £10 million will create the CDU, which will test advanced carbon dioxide utilisation technologies, aiding their adoption and speeding up commercialisation efforts.
  • Transport, Renewables and Career Exploration Hub: The Hub will serve as a focal point for industry and education, enhancing local skills and advancing green growth ambitions. Based in Grangemouth, it will offer virtual and augmented reality experiences to young people and help to upskill those working in transitioning industries.
  • Greener Grangemouth: Using £10m from the Scottish Government and £2m from the Deal, the 10-year project aims to put community wellbeing at the heart of Grangemouth’s transition to Net Zero. The project aims to tackle climate change, health disparities, and urban decline while improving community assets, wellbeing services, partnerships, skills, employment, community wealth, and public spaces.

Credit:  Aerial images of the Falkirk area (header) and Grangemouth (Innovative Industry) courtesy of Scotdrone.