Making a place more loved

A dual building project, one refurbished, the other new build.
A dual building project, one refurbished, the other new build. · Credit: Daniel Hopkinson

AHR for Dumfries & Galloway Council 

Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway

Balyett Gateway wins a place on the MacEwen Award shortlist as a council-led project that meaningfully regenerates  an everyday building on a tight budget. The panel particularly welcomed the council’s extensive engagement with the public in setting up the brief and the way it retained the existing snack bar tenant.

The judges commended architect AHR for its sensitive and appropriate design.

‘Although the existing snack bar was really magical and cute, the redevelopment is really well done and it must make the place feel more loved,’ explained judge Amanda Levete.

Balyett Gateway was commissioned by Dumfries & Galloway Council to counteract the decline in footfall in Stranraer town centre following relocation of the ferry port for Northern Ireland up the coast. In an area for cycling and hiking, the underlying driver for the project was to enhance key approach locations while creating a positive impression for the outskirts of town. Balyett Gateway is the first of several gateways to be completed as part of an overall masterplan.

  • The snack bar has retained its existing tenant as part of the refurbishment.
    The snack bar has retained its existing tenant as part of the refurbishment. · Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Look out pavilion.
    Look out pavilion. · Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Balyett Gateway is located in an area for hiking and cycling, as well as being on one of the main roads into the town.
    Balyett Gateway is located in an area for hiking and cycling, as well as being on one of the main roads into the town. · Credit: Daniel Hopkinson

Located at the Balyett layby on the A77, the project incorporates work on a popular but tired looking café and the construction of a cantilevered pavilion providing sheltered seating and a binocular outlook to take advantage of the panoramic views and shoreline birdlife. The café was refurbished externally to complement the rural shelter, as a simple, functional place sympathetic to its surroundings. Serving both visitors and locals, it references the porthole views of the distant ferries and the observation of wading birds.

The council consulted extensively on the wider masterplan for Stranraer and Loch Ryan regeneration. Local residents were invited to consider a variety of smaller interventions – the ‘gateway opportunities’, areas on the edge of town requiring minimal work and expenditure but which could provide a sense of welcome and arrival.

People are encouraged by the council’s commitment to underpin the local economy by rejuvenating existing businesses and social spaces

Completed in June 2015 at a cost of £55,000, the refurbished café and new pavilion have been well received. Architecturally, the Scottish larch-clad intervention sits comfortably and in scale with its natural setting on the loch shore’s existing coastal path and cycle route. The project has regenerated a major approach to the town, providing a reason to stop. The café has also been socially and economically rewarding for the existing tenant who has seen his council-owned facility dramatically transformed. People are encouraged by the council’s commitment to underpin the local economy by rejuvenating existing businesses and social spaces.

The project is an excellent example of how small council investment can significantly improve the experience of a site and can lead to increased revenue.


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