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Group to get long term lease of Loreburn Hall

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Group to get long term lease of Loreburn Hall

A COMMUNITY group that was set up solely to secure a long-term future for the Loreburn Hall is on the verge of a takeover of the Dumfries building.

The Drill Hall Initiative, founded by Sandy Sweetman and Simon Robertson, was formed three years ago to establish a sustainable future for the then vacant Loreburn Hall.

Drill Hall Initiative members have ambitions to turn the historic building into an affordable event space which community groups, young people, and local businesses can utilise.

The Electric Theatre Workshop has been renting the hall from Dumfries and Galloway Council, however the lease will run out this summer and council chiefs are now looking to dispose of the building by means of a long-term 25-year lease.

The Electric Theatre Workshop and Drill Hall Initiative have both submitted bids for a community-based takeover at below market rates.

After scoring assessments were done on both bids, council officers are favouring the Drill Hall Initiative proposal and are recommending that its members are given the hall keys in a 25-year lease, with a five-year review period.

However, councillors sitting on Dumfries Common Good sub-committee will review both proposals, make their own recommendation, and then the matter will go before the council’s finance committee for final sign-off.

A report due to be tabled at the next sub-committee on June 7 reads: “The outcome of the scoring exercise is Drill Hall Initiative 91.4 percent and The Electric Theatre Workshop 81.6 percent.

“Any offer of a long-term lease to Drill Hall Initiative would cap the council’s utilities costs support at a maximum of £15k/annum for the first three years only.”

Electric Theatre Workshop offered Dumfries and Galloway Council £2000 per year to lease Loreburn Hall, or a five percent share of profits, whichever is the greater.

Drill Hall Initiative is seeking the first two years rent free, with three years of support for utility costs (current costs £15,000 per annum), however the group would then pay £12,000 per year thereafter.

When the sums were done over a ten-year period, the council would pocket £20,000 from Electric Theatre Company or £51,000 from the Drill Hall Initiative.