Remaking Rothesay: what’s it all about?

Ice Cream Architecture are providing the expert team to support the 'Remaking Rothesay' project.
Ice Cream Architecture are providing the expert team to support the 'Remaking Rothesay' project.

Everyone on Bute is being invited to take part in the exciting ‘Remaking Rothesay’ project next month - but what, exactly, is it all about?

The project went public last week with the launch of the Remaking Rothesay Facebook page - but if you haven’t heard the name before, it’s natural that you might want to know a bit more detail.

In simple terms, Remaking Rothesay is about getting the local community involved in the process of planning what the centre of the town might look like in future - something which is technically known as a ‘Design Charrette’, and involves ordinary members of the public working together with experts on a vision for the future development of an area.

Remaking Rothesay will involve a series of workshops - some of them about talking, others about activities - held between February 24 and 27, culminating in a community event at the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre on Saturday, February 27.

The expert team behind Remaking Rothesay comes from Ice Cream Architecture, who ran a similar Charrette event in Denny in Stirlingshire last year and whose trademark activity - as you might expect from the name of the company - involves taking an ice cream cart or van into the communities they’re working in.

But whose idea was ‘Remaking Rothesay’ in the first place? Well, for that you need to think back only as far as February 2015, and a public meeting held at Rothesay Pavilion in which the people who live on Bute were asked to say what they thought was needed to grow the island’s population.

As a result of that meeting, and with the help of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF), an ‘Alliance for Action’ was set up for Rothesay and for Bute, in which anyone who’s interested in helping to grow the island’s economy and increase its population is welcome to take part.

SURF has already set up two Alliance projects elsewhere in Scotland - in Govan and in east Kirkcaldy, both of which have resulted in significant urban improvements in the areas concerned.

The Alliance - which is always open to new members - has held two further public meetings, in September and October, to help set out its purpose and priorities, and has also carried out an online survey to ask people in a little bit more detail what they think are the most important issues facing both the town and the island.

Now they’ve adopted a brand for all their activities - ‘Building a Better Bute’ - and are ready to hold Remaking Rothesay, their first event in pursuit of that goal.

The architects and designers who work for Ice Cream Architecture will be out and about in Rothesay over the next few weeks gathering people’s thoughts and opinions ahead of the event itself at the end of February.

So if you see their trademark ice-cream cart around the town, don’t be too confused - they’re not about selling cold confectionery to the masses in the middle of winter!