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Regeneration scheme picks up

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Regeneration scheme picks up

BUSINESSES in two Dumfries town centre streets could be given a makeover as part of a regeneration project.

The Dumfries Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) was launched by Dumfries and Galloway Council year ago, and provides a small grants scheme where local firms can apply for funding.

The restoration and repair of traditional shopfronts, windows and doors is being targeted, as well as the replacement of modern shopfronts, windows and doors with traditionally styled units.

Priority projects are already underway at 8 English Street, 11-17 English Street, and 107-109 High Street.

However, as the grants scheme wasn’t well publicised, there has been little uptake. Since then, owners of buildings in Friars Vennel and bottom half of Bank Street have shown interest and it is now being proposed for regeneration work to begin in these streets.

The matter is due to be discussed at the council’s economy and resources committee next Tuesday where councillors will be asked to rubberstamp the expansion of the regeneration scheme.

A report due to be tabled at the meeting reads: “It is proposed that the Dumfries CARS area be expanded to take in the bottom half of Bank Street and Friars Vennel, from Irish Street to the Whitesands.”

The report continues: “The small grants scheme would then be promoted heavily to these two streets for shopfront repair/replacement schemes in order to maximise the impact of the scheme.

“The CARS main funders, Historic Environment Scotland, have already approved this request.”

The Dumfries CARS launched in March 2022, however as Covid 19 restrictions were still in force to some degree, the decision was taken to have a virtual launch instead of a physical one.

Council officers believe that this has led to poor communication and awareness and the benefits available to town centre businesses.

A relaunch of the scheme is now being planned and will coincide with the first CARS project beginning work onsite and the launch of the newly-restored town centre fountain some time this spring.

A week-long series of events is being planned, including tours, talks and workshops.

A similar CARS project is running in Stranraer, which has seen much-needed repair work commence at Stranraer Museum.

The historic A-listed building is undergoing restoration works led by WH Kirkwood, a Greenock-based company experienced in historic building conservation.

Work began in January to carry out repairs to the roof, clocktower, masonry, windows, doors, drainage and heating systems. Structural

repairs are also being carried out, which has resulted in Church Street being closed to through vehicle traffic until completion of the work on May 29.

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