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West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd Craft and Design Town Project (WKCIL)

Facts & Figures

Organisation Name

West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd Craft and Design Town Project (WKCIL)

People Benefiting

The whole town

Area Served

West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, West of Scotland




The loss of large-scale manufacturing jobs in West Kilbride resulted in above average unemployment. The high street lost many traditional retail outlets replaced by empty and unkempt shops. West Kilbride began to suffer from vandalism, a poor image and a lack of services. The West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd Craft and Design Town Project (WKCIL) drove the strategy of a craft and design town to regenerate the town and create a vibrant, dynamic and financially sustainable community. Community involvement during the planning and development process has not only resulted in physical regeneration, but also a sense of community pride. The main retail centre has changed from almost derelict site to a lively town centre once more.

Legal Form

In West Kilbride the anchor role is fulfilled by the WKCIL and the Village Hall Users Management Committee that is a sub group of the WKCIL. The WKCIL is a registered charity and limited company which re-invests profits into community activities and servi





Earned Income

£53,039 – income is derived from commission from gallery, retail outlet and craft fair sales, rental income from studios, second-hand furniture sales and village Hall letting.


The Barony Exhibition Centre, Studio Units, Defunct Quarry and 2 meadows (Environmental

Value of assets


Roots & Links


In 1996, the West Kilbride community was shocked into action when a local girl was murdered. A public meeting was called to address the issues that the town faced. Starting with an assets based approach lead to the creation of the West Kilbride Craft & Design Town. Volunteers formed the West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd to drive the craft and design town concept forward. The overarching aim was the creation of a vibrant, dynamic and financially sustainable community


A volunteer board of nine directors from the local community

Community Links

WKCIL is a multi-partner project that to date has included local community and volunteer workers, schools and colleges, the Moffat Trust, and local businesses. The Involvement of residents during the planning and development process has not only resulted in physical regeneration, but has lead to a sense of community pride and local people taking responsibility.

External Links

The wider community of Ayrshire and Scotland has also been key stakeholders in the project’s success. WKCIL has strong links to North Ayrshire Council, North Lanarkshire Volunteering Centre, Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, the Scottish Arts Council, CraftScotland and Visit Scotland.


Physical Hub

Yes. The refurbished gallery occupies a prime site within the Main Street and acts as a focus for the Craft & Design Town. It has become a point of community news and information as well as a dynamic retail space for craft products from the studio and the wider craft community.

Builds Local Capacity

Currently provide basic training for artists and volunteers. WKCIL are in the process of developing a wider social and cultural programme of workshops. Also looking at developing a partnership with the North Lanarkshire Volunteering Centre to develop further training and capacity building programmes.

Delivers Services

Yes. Provide affordable studio accommodation and exhibition space for artists and craftspeople; deliver a second hand furniture enterprise; the Environmental Group have transformed the town with hanging baskets, gardens and walkways. The project has been instrumental in the creation of additional spin-off initiatives. These include the Green Centre, a recycling and vermiculture centre, the village hall user group, where dance and drama activities are available, the Scarecrow Festival and, for the last six years the town has been a finalist in Scotland in Bloom. These activities have in turn motivated further enterprise and enhanced the entrepreneurial spirit of the area.

Develops/Manages Services

To date the project has developed six studios, one shop and the gallery.

Main Achievements

The impact of the project is has been both significant and sustainable: • It has raised community and civic pride through providing an attractive and environmentally sustainable townscape and preserving local built heritage. • The purchase of a local church where a second-hand furniture shop was established to generate income for the community. Funding has recently been acquired and consultants are developing a feasibility study for the further development of the Barony Exhibition Centre • Through exploiting niche retailing and tourism, the Craft Town development has encouraged many new small businesses to locate to West Kilbride, thereby revitalizing the main retail area into a vibrant town centre • New residents have been attracted to the town as a direct result of the initiative and over 300 new houses have been built The project was named Britain’s “Capital of Enterprise” when it won the DTI’s Enterprising Britain 2006 award, and went on to win the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum’s Annual Best Practice Award in the category of “Place”.

What Next

Biggest Challenge

With no large “pot” of money available, it has taken vision, drive and the extreme personal commitment of local people to fund the development of the project. The core group of committed people continues to feel stretched.

Lesson Learned

A good starting point was to map the assets of the area and how they could be developed. While we were waiting for funding for our main work, .we initiated our Environmental Group, a complementary community project. This maintained morale and extended the regeneration work.


• The further development of the now defunct Barony Church as the Barony Exhibition Centre – a multi-purpose arts and conference centre • The building of additional studio units and development of further spin-off projects including a craft project utilizing recycled materials • Develop a regional/national role as Scotland’s “Craft and Design ambassador” • That the entrepreneurial ambition will leave a legacy of innovation and risk taking in West Kilbride for generations to come



Maggie Broadley

Address Line 1

Craft Town Scotland

Address Line 2

Gallery, 75/77 Main Street, KA23 9AP


West Kilbride


North Ayrshire