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£1 chance to be part of the town centre

By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
£1 chance to be part of the town centre

A £1 STAKE in the regeneration of Dumfries Town Centre is set to be offered to the public — as part of an ambitious plan.

Community benefit society Dumfries High Street Ltd is to be formed this summer with the aim of buying properties currently owned by pension funds and bringing them into public ownership.

Matt Baker from The Midsteeple Quarter said: “The idea really is for this company to buy back the buildings in the High Street so that town stocks are owned again by it and not the pension funds.”

He added: “The idea is that this Dumfries High Street Ltd becomes a social landlord for the areas above the shops.

“And the shops in that Midsteeple Quarter, the idea is that they’re more oriented towards social enterprise rather than shops specifically.”

And Mr Baker says that the NHS are interested in having a presence on the High Street, and the University of West of Scotland are keen on establishing small business incubators.

Loreburn Community Council are on board to serve as a founding member of the enterprise.

Chairman Robin Wishart said: “We’re hoping that this will be a real community beast and will carry momentum.”

He added: “I’ve been involved in various attempts, but it’s always been more of a retailer focus and this is the first time it’s been with a real community focus and had a real residential aspect to it.

“So our fingers are crossed and we hope that all members of Loreburn Community Council become individual members of this high street take-a-share.”

Discussions have already taken place with council chief executive Gavin Stevenson and with Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP when he visited the town in March.

Although shares will be sold at the nominal amount of £1, giving the public a stake in the grassroots project, a process will be undertaken to secure funds with which to purchase the properties.

A consortium has been established including the Stove Network, and with Third Sector First playing a role co-ordinating a bid for funding from Heritage Lottery Great Place.



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