Exceeding all expectations, our first public meeting had around 100 in attendance. Even after two deliveries of extra seats, some people unfortunately had to stand. With guest speakers to set the scene, the meeting also gathered ideas from those attended to feed into what happens next.
5th December was a cold, dark evening in Dunfermline. We had called the meeting to broaden out what we are doing into the wider community and held it in the Carnegie Leisure Centre, where we could glance out the window and see our subject opposite. It’s never easy to guess how many people might come along to events such as these but, we knew there were quite strong feelings in town about Pilmuir Works.
The meeting itself comprised two distinct parts. The first was a series of guest speakers to help set the scene and to bring examples and inspiration from what is going on elsewhere. After that came the ideas session, where it was over to the audience to pitch in with ideas for what could be done with the Pilmuir site.
Grant Buttars opened the meeting with some initial remarks, outlining how the programme for the evening and introducing the guest speakers. First up was Ian Ferguson. Ian outlined what we, as Friends of Pilmuir Works, have been doing and some of the immediate tasks ahead. Next on was local historian, Hugh Walker, who skillfully managed to condense nearly 200 years of the history of the site into just over 10 minutes (with illustrations).
Our third speaker was architect Malcolm Fraser, who inspired the meeting with examples of buildings and community enterprises elsewhere elsewhere. He drew parallels between Pimuir and the Rockfield Centre in Oban. Alongside Malcolm, we heard from Sandra Macaskillwho has worked as a consultant on a number of community buyout projects.
We then heard from Karl Dorozenko, Development, Planning and Regeneration Manager for East Ayrshire. He told us about a decidedly different approach they have taken towards town centre regeneration in Kilmarnock, specifically a conscious decision to favour the reuse of older buildings for new purposes, which he illustrated with many examples.
After the speakers and associated Q&A, it was over to Jean Ferguson to coordinate the ideas session. The ideas themselves were diverse and plentiful and we are still pulling them together from the many flipchart pages and post it notes. We will post more details once we have done this.
The evening concluded with everyone very enthused and various spontaneous conversations took place before we left the building. Many signed our petition as they left. Numerous petition blanks were also taken by people to get others to sign. This is one of the things we will be concentrating on next, so watch out for us out in the street and knocking on doors.
As we move into 2017, we will be calling further meetings to develop ideas further and discuss what we do next, so look out for announcements!