Former Dumfries baker's building seeks regeneration role

Image caption,
The building could become the "cornerstone" for wider plans to regenerate the area

A former baker's building could have a vital role in the regeneration of a Scottish town centre.

Community benefits society The Midsteeple Quarter wants to buy the old Bakers Oven site in Dumfries.

It has £1.6m demolish-and-rebuild plans for the High Street property currently owned by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The authority is being asked to sell the building to the community group for £1 as the "cornerstone" of wider plans to regenerate the area.

The property was purchased by the council in 2009 thanks to a Scottish government grant.

It had been earmarked for demolition to create the entrance to a new retail centre as part of a town centre regeneration plan.

Image source, The Stove Network
Image caption,
The project wants to upgrade up to eight buildings in Dumfries

However, since its purchase the property has been "relatively underused" with community groups delivering pop-up shops or displays of work in recent years.

A report said that was not a "financially sustainable" model for the building.

Dumfries High Street Limited - trading as the Midsteeple Quarter - hopes to take it over for £1 as part of plans to bring up to eight properties in the area back into use.

It would create enterprise, creative and accommodation space within the building.

The organisation hopes it will act as a flagship for its key principles:

  • the local community taking the lead with partnership support
  • repopulating the town centre by creating high-quality and affordable housing on upper floors
  • dynamic and engaging activity at street-level that will help support a mixed and vibrant local economy

The report to the Nithsdale area committee says the property has a current market value of £300,000 but they would have to decide if the "social value" of the deal was sufficient to justify the sale.

The council currently spends thousands of pounds a year in maintenance on the building.

'Clear reasons'

The area committee will meet next week to consider three possible options.

One would be to recommend the transfer for £1 with no specific conditions attached.

Another would be to attach a condition that required capital funding for the project was in place by a specific date.

Alternatively it could recommend not to transfer the building but would have to provide "clear reasons" for the refusal.

If the scheme got the go ahead, the Midsteeple Quarter hopes it could be completed by January 2020.

"This is a project of local and national significance, serving as a roadmap for High Street regeneration which can be transferred to other towns experiencing similar challenges," said the business plan for the project.

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