Focusing on the future of the White Tile Building
As part of Celebrate Kilmarnock’s ‘Speak Up For Kilmarnock’ community conversations we hosted an online discussion on Wednesday 23rd June, focusing on the future of King Street’s white tile building. The free Zoom event, aptly named ‘A Night On The Tiles’, was well attended by Celebrate Kilmarnock board members and volunteers as well as representatives from Kilmarnock-based organisations and businesses. The large building, situated between Specsavers Opticians and Killie Gold Jewellery Workshop, has lain empty for a number of years; however, we believe its potential is far-reaching and that its regeneration could be a catalyst for real and lasting change to the entire King Street area. It was truly heartening to see so many members of the Kilmarnock community coming together to move our town centre forward and help us realise the possibilities of this mostly overlooked building.
The evening began with a welcome from our chair, Reverend David Cameron, who stated that the purpose of the building’s regeneration is “not just about saving a building” but “about saving our town”. He also reinforced the importance of community-led regeneration, describing it as the “key dynamic” of Celebrate Kilmarnock, what it stands for and what it endeavours to achieve:
“Celebrate Kilmarnock is a platform for engaging with the community in a participative, deliberative and democratic way. It’s a collaboration of a number of groups, agencies and individuals but is always community-led.”
The evening also featured presentations from Laura Scott-Simmons of Benton Scott-Simmons Landscape Architecture Consultancy and Richard Marsh of 4 Consulting.
Laura stressed the need to prevent Kilmarnock becoming “a Polo Mint or doughnut town, where everything is around the outside but is dead on the inside”, perfectly illustrating the importance of nurturing our town centre to prevent it becoming completely empty. The discussion then turned to the rear of the white tile building, namely the area overlooking Kilmarnock Water and Bank Street, and ways in which this space could be reclaimed. Laura’s suggestions ranged from creating a restaurant and garden on the building’s rooftop terrace to a market on the building’s ground floor which would allow the “buzz of King Street” to flow through the building.
Next came a brief presentation from Richard, which focused on the economic benefits of regenerating the white tile building, for the building itself and for King Street as a whole:
“Small changes in things like community ownership, encouraging local procurement and fair employment practices can result in significant impacts. The white tile building will provide the first building block in strengthening the connective tissue of the town centre. Taking disparate businesses, projects and activities from the private and public sectors and encouraging them to work more in concert with one another will help generate and retain more wealth within the local area.”
Both presentations featured an interactive segment which invited participants to answer some “quick-fire” questions on what the white tile building could bring to the town centre: “What could be special about this place?”; “What should it offer the community?”; “How should the building be used and managed to maximise the benefit to the community?”
Suggestions included using the building as a social space, a tech hub and a place to showcase the work of local artists, all of which would make great use of its town centre location, encourage input from young people and local businesses and circulate wealth back into the community.
The night was a resounding success and featured invaluable input from Laura and Richard as well as fantastic suggestions from local attendees. We think we speak for everyone when we say we’re so excited for the future of the white tile building and the staggering potential it has to completely change our town. Thanks so much again to everyone who came along.
Want to know more and get involved? Check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter (@CelebrateKillie) and Instagram (@celebratekilmarnock) to stay updated with all developments as they happen!