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Run-down garages could get new life

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Run-down garages could get new life

RUNDOWN garages in Sanquhar which have been earmarked for redevelopment for nearly a decade could finally be put to good use by the community.

Sanquhar residents are keen to see the empty garages at Queensberry Square being transformed, and this move was first identified as a “priority” in the 2015-2020 local community action plan.

Progress has been made over the last year as Sanquhar Enterprise Company – a community group and registered Scottish charity – has been working with officers at Dumfries and Galloway Council on a transfer of the garages into community ownership.

The group comprises of around 50 residents living in Sanquhar and Upper Nithsdale. In April last year, the members hosted an evening event at A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre to discuss what could be done about empty buildings in Sanquhar.

The event was well attended by people living and working in Sanquhar, and everyone who took part agreed that Queensberry Garages should be redeveloped to support local groups and businesses.

The following month, an online survey was launched to gauge views about potential building projects in the town, and 87 percent of respondents agreed that Sanquhar Enterprise Company should redevelop the garages at Queensberry Square.

The organisation is now in the stage two process of a community asset transfer to acquire the old garages. The matter will be discussed at the council’s Nithsdale area committee next Wednesday where councillors will be asked to approve the handover of the garages.

A council report, due to be tabled at the committee, reads: “Sanquhar Enterprise Company is requesting that the garages be transferred by way of ownership for the value of £1.

“The asset has been valued by the council at £18,000 and Sanquhar Enterprise Company feel that a discount of £17,999 is proportionate due to the level of social value and community benefit they feel will be generated for the local community by the proposed transfer and will offset the discount requested.

“The enterprise company plan have identified a local need for storage units for community groups and local businesses and so intend to refurbish the garages and bring these back in to use.”

The group’s business plan reads: “If Sanquhar Enterprise Company can acquire the old garages, then we propose to repair the garages and bring them back into use as storage units for community groups and businesses.

“Sanquhar Enterprise Company propose to seek the support of Upper Nithsdale Community Trust, who are a grant awarding charity distributing Wind Farm Community Benefit Funds.

“We are aware of other national and regional funders and will also consider grant applications to these organisations.

“As it is our intention to redevelop the old garages for community use, we would hope that local groups and organisations would support us in our fundraising efforts.”

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