3 May 2024

  • East Renfrewshire Council, Talking Points East Renfrewshire and Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire are among those supporting the Retail Trust to create a new community hub in Newton Mearns
  • Funding for the £1 million project has been granted by organisations including the B&Q Foundation, the Hugh Fraser Foundation and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities ‘Community Ownership Fund’
  • Groundbreaking ceremony has now taken place to mark the start of the building work

The charity Retail Trust has begun a £1 million renovation of its Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate in Newton Mearns to create a new community hub for older people and the community across East Renfrewshire.

Three disused spaces within the estate’s Crookfur House are being refurbished by the Retail Trust to build the new facilities, which will cater for more than 1,000 local people a year and provide more support for those most at risk of isolation and with long-term health needs.

The Retail Trust’s community cafe and reception area are also being fully upgraded as part of the project and, when complete later this year, it will offer a range of activities including gentle exercise classes, craft groups, film nights, quizzes and indoor bowls.

East Renfrewshire’s proportion of residents with long-term health conditions is the fourth highest in Scotland, according to the council’s planning for the future report*, and the hub will also run new disability and health support groups to meet local needs.

Representatives from East Renfrewshire Council, including Council Leader Owen O’Donnell, attended a milestone groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday (2 May) to celebrate the start of the work.

Lawrence Coen, managing director of property and supported living at the Retail Trust, said: “We want to address the lack of community facilities and local support for people with long-term health conditions like dementia across East Renfrewshire. Refurbishing these spaces will allow us to really increase the activities and support the Retail Trust can offer both our residents and the wider community.

“We’ve worked closely with our residents and organisations like Voluntary Action, Age Concern and East Renfrewshire Council to develop our plans and we’re really pleased with the help and funding we now have secured from a number of other important partners. We know this new community hub will provide a real lifeline to people most at risk of isolation or with long-term health needs in East Renfrewshire and it’s only being made possible thanks to our brilliant supporters.”

Other organisations supporting the development of the Retail Trust’s new community hub include Talking Points East Renfrewshire, Men’s Shed and Helping Hands.

The Retail Trust has also secured funding from organisations including the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities ‘Community Ownership Fund’, Scottish Government’s Place Based Investment Fund, Scottish Power Renewables, East Renfrewshire Council, Garfield Weston Foundation, NEXT, the B&Q Foundation and Dobbies Garden Centres.

The project is being delivered by construction company Clark Contracts.

Owen O’Donnell, East Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “It’s fantastic to see this project get underway in Newton Mearns. The hub is the heart of this retirement village, for both residents and neighbours, and I’m sure everyone will enjoy the new, improved cafe and community spaces.

“I’m delighted we were able to support the improvements through the Scottish Government Place Based Investment and East Renfrewshire Renewable Energy Funds and look forward to seeing it complete, creating yet more community facilities for local residents and visitors to East Renfrewshire.”

More than 120 people currently live on the Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate in Newton Mearns, one of five supported living estates run by the Retail Trust for people retired from the retail industry, or who are in the care of someone working in or retired from the sector. The charity also works with more than 200 retailers to protect their staff’s wellbeing.

This includes NEXT and Dobbies Garden Centre, who are also working with the Retail Trust to create the new community hub, with Dobbies Garden Centre volunteering time and donating products for a new garden space outside the community café.

David Robinson, CEO at Dobbies Garden Centre, said: “As a nation of gardeners, we know that being able to enjoy gardens and outdoor spaces can improve our overall health and wellbeing. We’re proud to be partnering with the Retail Trust to provide and help create the garden living spaces for the community at the Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate to enjoy. We’re super excited about this project and can’t wait to get started.”

Picture caption (left to right)

Helen Goldsby-West, Retail Trust | Gerry Cummins, Clark Contracts | Julia Whitaker, East Renfrewshire Council | Michaela Sullivan, East Renfrewshire Council | Matthew McCloy, Clark Contracts | Amy Aitken, Scottish Power Renewables | Alan Smith Pottie, Wilson Quantity Surveyors | Cllr Owen O’Donnell, Leader of East Renfrewshire Council | Lawrence Coen, Retail Trust | Patricia Fraser, Hugh Fraser Foundation | Lorna Wallace, East Renfrewshire Council | Lynn McDonagh, Retail Trust | David Owens, Clark Contracts | Elaine Donachie, Retail Trust | Kathy MacIntyre, Retail Trust | Dino Lannie, Retail Trust | Maryanne Sneddon, Retail Trust | Nick Paterson, Clark Contracts | Olivia Pearson, NEXT Retail | Thomas O’Reilly, NEXT Retail


* Planning for the future report:

The project received funding from East Renfrewshire Council via the Scottish Government’s Place Based Investment Fund (£75,000) and the East Renfrewshire Renewable Energy Fund, via Scottish Power Renewables, (£50,000). You can find information on these funds on East Renfrewshire Council’s website at: and