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Shrink the town centre idea

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West

SHRINKING the boundary of Dumfries town centre is just one of the ideas which has now been proposed.

As Dumfries and Galloway Council carry out consultation on the Main Issues Report for the Local Development Plan 2, Loreburn Community Council have put together proposals which also include encouraging more non-retail premises and moving NHS office staff into the centre of town.
Chairman Robin Wishart said: “There’s a town centre boundary which should be made a bit smaller.”
Noting it would mean Whitesands is not included, he added: “I think it makes sense.”
Mr Wishart argued the move could mean outlying areas are freed of some restrictions, and the idea was agreed at the group’s meeting last week.
Turning to housing, Mr Wishart argued that the plan does not address the potential regenerative role of housing in urban centres – calling for housing to be brought back to the High Street so that it ‘will not die as it does now at 5 pm’.
Support was voiced for The Midsteeple Quarter project, as well a call to consider housing development on gap sites which have been turned into car parks – including at Queensberry Street and George Street.
A policy which requires developers building more than five homes to allocate 20 per cent to social housing was also debated.
Noting difficulty finding developers wishing to build on brownfield sites, Mr Wishart said: “You could say, ‘Okay – you could give 20 per cent to social housing, but here’s your alternative if you don’t want to do that’.
“Because there’s plenty of brownfield sites needing development – develop those instead.”
Sandy Rogerson voiced concern this could result in the creation of ‘ghettos’, but Mr Wishart said it would not necessarily have to be social housing.
A call for more commercial office space in the centre of Dumfries was agreed, with Mr Wishart saying he understood that up to 500 staff currently based at the Crichton might be displaced when the new hospital opens.
He said: “They could all be shunted out to some dreadful construction at Heathhall or Garroch, or wherever. There’s not offices being built into the site at the hospital.
“However, imagine if you had 500 health board workers in decent offices in Dumfries town centre.”
Meanwhile, the former art school in George Street, the former convent and the current Loreburn Primary School site were also proposed for consideration as sites with significant development potential.

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