Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter

Cultural Quarter, Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter

Cultural Quarter, Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter

Cultural Quarter, Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter

Cultural Quarter, Kilmarnock


East Ayrshire Council


Karl Doroszenko, East Ayrshire Council










“The study generated a lot of good ideas, stimulated creative thinking and will be invaluable as we look towards a new, forward thinking, placemaking plan for Kilmarnock Town Centre.”

Karl Doroszenko, East Ayrshire Council

Kilmarnock is an environment of immense character and burgeoning creativity. The “Creative Place” accolade secured in 2013 and the SURF award, for the Most Improved Large Town category in 2015, are testament to that fact. Historically, Kilmarnock was a manufacturing heartland, exporting quality products around the world. But towns and cities change; this is an irrefutable fact. The mechanism for this change may be economic or geographical, but what is more crucial is understanding what outcomes of these change drivers will be “on the ground”; what will Kilmarnock become and how can Kilmarnock position itself to take advantage of them?

Arguably there have been three previous, significant changes in the history of the town. Firstly, the decision to create a north-south axis (which became Titchfield Street in the 18th Century) gave Kilmarnock its initial structure and growth impetus. Second, the Industrial Revolution brought the Railways which, although dissecting the top of the town, created the conditions for its future development. Finally, the 1970’s brought a different approach to infrastructure, a one-way road network was constructed.

Although the one-way system is now considered to be problematic and restrictive, it was at least a big idea. With a new world-class College building, and a proposed regeneration of the former Diageo site – both also by Keppie – it is incredibly exciting that the catalyst for the 4th major cycle of the town’s iterative development will be based on education, innovation and an enterprising cultural rebirth.

The significance of the Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter project cannot be underestimated. It has the potential to contribute to the tipping point from which a new vibrant Kilmarnock emerges. A new Kilmarnock which has respect for – and reference to – its past. A new Kilmarnock which responds to the aspirations of its people. A new Kilmarnock created out of the collaboration and drive of both private enterprise and public sector partnership.

Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter
Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter

Following the initial observations and thoughts arising from the various workshops, a strategy to develop the Cultural Quarter evolved. This includes the improvement and removal of built form and open spaces. A series of overarching high-level strategies emerged, namely:


Pedestrianisation within the cultural quarter, linking of green spaces and forming new pedestrianised routes.

Maintenance and Enhancements:

Preservation of the natural environment. Environmental improvements to existing culturally significant buildings.

Ambition for the Cultural Quarter:

Creating a vibrant quarter of cultural significance that encapsulates the rich history of the area and the people of Kilmarnock.

The summary recommendation for the Vision were:

  • Consider, what is the main purpose of the Cultural Quarter? How should it be defined? And what should its key assets and activities be in terms of that purpose and definition?
  • Consider what drivers for change might affect the Dick Institute and the Palace Theatre over a ten-year period and what measures might be included to take advantage of that change.
  • Develop ideas to use space differently to enhance the experience and increase the number of visitors to the Cultural Quarter utilising council owned assets where possible (but not exclusively).
  • Carry out an assessment of the existing access arrangements for pedestrians, cars and coaches to consider what impact these have on the current activity of the Dick Institute and Palace Theatre.
  • Consider how the future development plans of the Dick Institute and Palace Theatre will affect user demand for access and parking.
  • Consider any improvements under development by Ayrshire Roads Alliance which may impact on the availability of parking and access.
  • Develop improved access arrangements and aesthetic options to enhance the Cultural Quarter, which may include, signage, streetscape, lighting, access routes and parking.
  • Develop plans to improve customer footfall and return visits which may include promotion, marketing, signage, gateway and signature features, green space, landscape, path networks and lighting of the Cultural Quarter.
  • Consider improved facilities at the Dick Institute which could increase income from visitors and events. Indicative costs for each option and potential sources of match funding.