Kinross-shire, a rural county in Scotland, is set to become a hub for net-zero rural workspaces, thanks to a new project funded by the Scottish Government. The project aims to create a network of low-carbon, flexible and affordable workspaces for rural businesses and entrepreneurs, while also supporting the local economy and community.
A vision for rural regeneration
The project is led by the Kinross-shire Partnership, a local development trust that works to promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of Kinross-shire. The partnership has secured £1.5 million from the Rural Communities Net Zero Fund, a £25 million fund launched by the Scottish Government in November 2021 to support rural communities in their transition to net-zero emissions.
The project will involve the renovation of three existing buildings in Kinross-shire, namely the former Kinross High School, the former Kinross Library and the former Kinross Town Hall. These buildings will be transformed into modern, energy-efficient and digitally connected workspaces, with a range of facilities and services for rural businesses and entrepreneurs, such as co-working spaces, meeting rooms, training rooms, workshops, studios and offices.
The project will also create a new building on the site of the former Kinross High School, which will house a community hub, a café, a nursery and a gym. The new building will be designed to meet the highest standards of sustainability, using renewable energy sources, low-carbon materials and natural ventilation.
The project aims to create a total of 4,000 square metres of net-zero rural workspace, which will accommodate up to 200 businesses and create up to 400 jobs. The project will also support the local economy and community by providing opportunities for skills development, training, networking, collaboration and innovation.
A model for net-zero rural development
The project is expected to be completed by 2024, and will serve as a model for net-zero rural development in Scotland and beyond. The project will demonstrate how rural communities can harness their assets, such as heritage buildings, natural resources and local talent, to create sustainable and resilient places that support the transition to a net-zero economy and society.
The project will also contribute to the national and global efforts to tackle climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing biodiversity and increasing carbon sequestration. The project will use a whole-system approach, which will consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of the project across its life cycle, from design and construction to operation and maintenance.
The project will also engage with the local community and stakeholders, to ensure that the project meets their needs and aspirations, and to foster a sense of ownership and pride. The project will involve a participatory design process, which will invite the input and feedback of the potential users and beneficiaries of the workspaces. The project will also create a community interest company, which will manage and operate the workspaces, and reinvest any profits into the project and the community.
A catalyst for rural innovation
The project is part of a wider vision for rural innovation in Kinross-shire, which aims to make the county a leading destination for rural businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in the sectors of green technology, creative industries, tourism and hospitality. The project will complement and enhance the existing assets and initiatives in Kinross-shire, such as the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, the Kinross-shire Music Festival, the Kinross Farmers’ Market and the Kinross Community Campus.
The project will also leverage the strategic location and connectivity of Kinross-shire, which is situated in the heart of Scotland, within easy reach of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Perth. The project will benefit from the proximity and access to major transport links, such as the M90 motorway, the A9 trunk road, the Fife Circle railway line and the Edinburgh Airport. The project will also utilise the digital infrastructure and broadband services available in Kinross-shire, which will enable the workspaces to offer high-speed internet and cloud-based solutions.
The project will create a network of net-zero rural workspaces, which will not only provide physical spaces, but also virtual platforms and communities, for rural businesses and entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and innovate. The project will also foster a culture of rural innovation, which will encourage and support the creation, development and growth of new and existing rural businesses and enterprises, which will contribute to the net-zero transition and the rural regeneration.