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Midsteeple team share their experience

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By Amy Duffy
Midsteeple team share their experience
THE mission to reclaim the High Street in Dumfries has inspired similar campaigns across Scotland.
And the team behind it this week shared their story and journey with politicians and other interested parties.
Midsteeple Quarter is a community benefit society that aims to reinvigorate the heart of Dumfries by reclaiming dilapidated buildings into community ownership and creating a space for living, working, enterprising and creating.
The project has received enthusiastic support from Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Government, who saw the project as a key national example of community-led regeneration in an urban context and an example that could be followed by the many other Scottish towns that were struggling due to the downturn in High Street retail.
Executive director Scott Mackay and board member Joe McGurk shared insight into the community group’s work with MSPs and regeneration leaders as part of a special online session on Monday, which was attended by around 100 people.
They explored the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods, which are areas where people are able to meet all of their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk, wheel or cycle from their home, and discussed how they can make communities cleaner and stronger.
Mr Mackay said: “This was a great opportunity to share insight and views from the community.
“We discussed how to keep town centres alive, drive change and create resilience.
“We are creating cultural and community spaces and retrofitting older buildings – with net-zero and helping tackle the climate crisis a clear focus.”
The session was held as the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee called for people to share their views as part of an investigation it’s conducting into the changing nature of retail and e-commerce, and their impact on town centres.
Mr McGurk added: “Hopefully, by sharing our experiences, we can help positively shape planning policies to help other places follow our lead to ensure our High Street thrives as part of a stronger, more sustainable future.”
Midsteeple Quarter is working to create a stronger future for Dumfries by taking empty and neglected town centre buildings into community ownership and redeveloping them into homes and businesses, which will act in the interests of local residents.
The first main phase of its redevelopment work, taking place at 135-139 High Street, is due to get underway this year.


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