Creation of £31m cultural quarter in Elgin a step closer

Elgin Town Hall

PLANS for the creation of a £31 million cultural quarter in Elgin have taken a step closer after Moray Council agreed to contribute £3.9 million towards the project.

The local authority said that the proposals will look to create a ‘vibrant’ space in the heart of the town which will support economic growth and cultural expansion across Moray.

The plans would see the 18th century B-listed Grant Lodge (formerly the town’s library) transformed to create a £9 million heritage attraction – focusing on Moray’s food, drink and textiles offering. Elgin Town Hall would also see a £9 million refurb, with an extension to house a multi-purpose theatre and performance space, cinema, and gallery.

Funded separately through a £9 million private investment, would be the build of a 60-100 bedroomed ‘premium’ hotel situated within the quarter. The local authority said that, despite the impact on the hospitality sector, interest in the opportunity is ‘strong’.

Outline business cases for the development of the cultural quarter have now been submitted to the Scottish and UK governments. Moray Council said that, subject to final agreement of these plans, both governments have pledged up to £12.7 million and £3.5 million respectively.

Leader of Moray Council, councillor Graham Leadbitter, said, “The cultural quarter proposals aims to rejuvenate key buildings and venues that are an integral part of Moray’s cultural sector, alongside plans for a hotel and a much improved use of a very prominent public space.

“As an example, Elgin Town Hall is used by individuals and groups from all over Moray and beyond, supporting theatre productions and bringing in acts that are attracted to Moray by a larger capacity venue. There is a real opportunity to maximise the use of that space for many years to come and provide value to even more people in the region.”

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson, commented, “This announcement will help partners realise their vision for a cultural quarter in Elgin. We are continuing to work closely with all deal partners to reach agreement on a full deal which will benefit communities and businesses across Moray.

“We are investing over £1.9 billion, which includes additional ‘side packages’ alongside the main Deals, to deliver sustainable, inclusive growth across Scotland.”

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said: “I’m delighted that the cultural quarter has secured financial backing from Moray Council.

“The £100 million Moray Growth Deal will be essential to the region’s economic recovery from coronavirus and I am sure we will see further progress in the coming months.

“Across Scotland the UK Government is investing more than £1.5 billion into deals to secure our future prosperity.”